John W. Porter Distinguished Chair in Urban Education
Partnering to Advance the Education of Elementary Students, Pre-service Teachers, lnservice Teachers, and EMU Faculty
Estabrook teachers, and EMU teacher educators, representatives of the Estabrook faculty and administration will work with the Porter Chair to plan professional growth activities in which Estabrook and EMU faculty will have opportunities to better understand our respective and conjoined goals, needs, and strengths. The Porter Chair will spend extensive time immersed in the Estabrook school community, gaining more understanding that will inform curriculum development related to course revisions associated with the new Michigan Department of Education grade-banding certification plans. While learning how to better prepare EMU teacher graduates to work in an urban school environment, the faculty will come to understand how to better address the strengths and needs of elementary students in such a setting. This project directly aligns with the intended mission for the Porter Endowed Chair, "to actively expand the University's role in urban school districts in Michigan, with an emphasis on school community partnerships."
The primary focus of the 2018-2019 John W. Porter Chair is to establish a deeper relationship, based on mutual respect, trust, and understanding between Ypsilanti Community Schools (as represented by Estabrook Learning Community) and the Eastern Michigan University initial teacher preparation program. Anticipated outcomes are:
- Increased understanding by EMU faculty and students in the teacher preparation program of the strengths and needs of students and teachers in an urban elementary school.
- Considerations of additional topics /activities /assignments to be added to practicum curriculum based on the increased understanding of EMU faculty as described in # I above.
- Increased communication and collaboration between EMU and Estabrook faculty.
- Formation of an ongoing professional learning community comprised of EMU faculty and Estabrook faculty to investigate issues of teaching and learning.
- Establishment of a solid corps of cooperating teachers to mentor future practicum students from EMU.
- Use of this foundational work to inspire further long-term, deep, reciprocal partnerships between P-12 schools and EMU in preparing teachers for work in a range of diverse settings, including urban, suburban, and rural.
- Publication of aspects of this work in a journal (e.g., The Learning Professional, Educational Leadership, The Teacher Educator) by the Porter Chair and 1-2 Estabrook teachers.
This project will also serve as a model for other initiatives involving College of Education partnerships and P-12 schools. When working in higher education, it is easy to lose direct contact with what is happening in education at lower levels. This can result in a disconnect between what happens in the teacher education program and what is happening in P-12 classrooms right down the street. How can faculty at EMU ensure that they are effectively preparing graduates to work in all types of schools if the faculty are not in those schools on a regular basis? This project serves to change that, by enhancing ongoing communication between EMU and YCS, and immersing the Porter Chair into Estabrook Learning Community.
As neighbors in our community, EMU and Ypsilanti Community Schools (YCS) can be leaders in a grassroots movement to "grow our own" teachers, individuals whose life work will give back to the community from which they came. Many of EMU preservice teachers went through their P-12 education in suburban or small town environments. For some, the thought of teaching in an urban, high-needs district is intimidating. If they have a positive, supported experience during practicums and student teaching, they are much more likely to feel comfortable accepting a teaching job in Ypsilanti. They will be prepared to successfully transition into the urban classroom, and will be more likely to stay in such a position. Many beginning teachers leave the profession within the first five years due to encountering challenges for which they feel unprepared. We want our EMU teaching graduates to stay, not only in the profession, but in districts such as YCS that need their expertise. The children of YCS will benefit from working with teachers who truly understand their strengths and needs, and are dedicated to pursuing their career in this community. In order to provide our pre-service teachers with the level of support needed to better ensure this happens, EMU faculty in teacher preparation need a deep understanding of the general urban school and specific YCS context, and the YCS faculty need a deep understanding of EMU’s goals and practices in preparing future teachers.
The John W. Porter Endowed Chair will promote this building of rapport and help develop our shared commitment to better education for all.