As has become common practice during the 2015-2016 school year, in early April, a group of Dallas Teacher Residency (DTR) teachers had the opportunity to spend the morning visiting Dallas ISD’s Hillcrest High School. The visit to Hillcrest was one of a number of schools throughout the DFW Metroplex that program residents have had the opportunity to visit during the academic year as part of their formal 14-month training.
In addition to Hillcrest, residents have spent time at schools such as The Hockaday School, Townview TAG, LG. Pinkston High School, and The Lamplighter School (amongst others) – visits that have each been an instrumental component of the residency program according to Dallas Teacher Residency Co-Founder, Elizabeth Kastiel.
“Even though our residents spend an entire year of clinical apprenticeship under a mentor teacher in a Dallas ISD school, exposing our residents to other school types and other school models is incredibly valuable in their development as pre-service teachers,” Kastiel said. “I want our residents to witness great teaching – once they become full time teachers they very rarely get to observe other classrooms. Making these school visits a formal part of their training provides our residents with rich observation experience prior to beginning their teaching.
Unlike many traditional school visits, which often include tours of the facility and the chance to briefly glance into a classroom or two, DTR residents spend the majority of their time in actual classrooms, observing and taking notes on the teaching and learning taking place. While debriefing their visit as a group, several residents were impressed by the intimate learning environments teachers created within their respective classrooms.
“The level of student engagement in each classroom was incredible,” Terrica Simmons, a High School English/Language Arts resident said. “Students’ demonstrated a level of fearlessness and comfort when asking questions to their teacher and when interacting with one another – you could tell that these teachers spent a lot of time creating an optimal learning environment for their students.”
Kastiel highlighted that these types of school visits could not be made possible without strong support from campus leadership.
“The Hillcrest administration should be applauded for their willingness to open up their campus to organizations such as ours for academic and learning purposes,” Kastiel said. “The strong school culture that they have worked to create is evident – and as a result, the teachers and students within the school are the big winners.”
Next year, Dallas Teacher Residency will partner with Hillcrest High School, as well as with other schools within the Hillcrest Feeder Pattern, to serve as clinical host school sites for the new class of teacher residents.