On a Friday morning in late January, it was the teachers, not the students – for a change – scrambling to arrive to class on time.
Scrambling to arrive on time in order to greet students and teach their own classrooms they were not – rather, these teachers, set on improving their individual teaching practices, were navigating the hallways of The Hockaday School (Hockaday), en route to participate in a series of classroom observations.
Made up of resident and mentor teachers from the Dallas Teacher Residency (DTR) teacher preparation program, Hockaday opened its doors and classrooms (literally) up to DTR. Program residents spent the entire morning touring the school, speaking to Hockaday school leaders, interacting with students, and observing the teaching and learning taking place inside a number of classrooms. According to DTR Co-Founder and President, Elizabeth Kastiel, this observation exercise serves as an integral and purposeful part of the yearlong residency experience.
“We are so thankful to Hockaday for allowing our program residents the opportunity to not only witness teaching and learning at such a high level, but also, for the opportunity they had to experience first hand, the powerful nature of collaboration between educators,” Kastiel said.
Since last August, DTR residents have been immersed in a unique teacher preparation field experience, spending four days (Monday-Thursday) each week in a designated classroom at Dallas ISD’s North Dallas High School, training under the guidance of a selected mentor teacher. On Friday’s, program residents take graduate level coursework at UNT-Dallas. Upon successful completion of this coursework (and residency field experience), program residents are eligible to earn their teacher certification, master’s degree, and are eligible for hire by the district.
“Having residents spend time developing their own understanding of the critical attributes that make schools successful is such an important component in the development and preparation of teachers,” Kastiel mentioned. “One of the goals of our program is to expose our residents to different school models (private, traditional public, charter, magnet), and for them to realize that great teaching directly leads to engaged students and high levels of student achievement – which can in fact occur in any school environment.”
“New teachers need to understand that school “type,” “school environment,” or, the “socioeconomic makeup” of the student body, do not serve as the limiting factors in terms of moving the needle forward towards higher levels of student achievement. Rather, it is the quality of instruction that takes place in these classrooms – and schools, which leads to student gains. In saying this, it is incredibly beneficial for teachers to witness effective instructional practices first hand – which our resident teachers were certainly exposed to at Hockaday.”
Over the course of the next several weeks, DTR residents have scheduled visits to Dallas ISD’s L.G. Pinkston High School, Dallas ISD’s Townview Magnet, and a charter school within the DFW area.