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Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Preparing Classroom Ready Teachers

April 22, 2015

What’s the best way to prepare 250,000 people each year to take charge of a classroom for the first time?

We are all still learning the answer to that question—that is, what elements have the most effect on helping teacher education candidates become great teachers in the classroom. But many promising practices are out there. At the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we are excited to launch a new strategy to promote their growth and encourage even more innovation.

In the coming years, we foresee many opportunities for partnership in the field of teacher preparation, with many types of organizations. We’ll be focusing our efforts on supporting action-oriented collaboration, promoting innovation, and advocating for the conditions that enable progress. We’re open-minded about what that looks like, but we are firmly committed to a set of principles that will guide our investments.

We will direct our support to the cultivation and sustenance of teacher prep programs that:

Give candidates meaningful opportunities to develop and refine their skills.
Their coursework and hands-on practice opportunities are connected to necessary competencies, clear performance expectations, and multiple opportunities for students to hone their skills and receive useful feedback.

Commit to continuous improvement.
They build systems where leaders, teacher educators, and others systemically use information about candidate and program performance to inform decisions.

Ensure their own educators are effective.
They take an intentional and rigorous approach to identifying effective teacher educators. They implement a comprehensive system for training, providing feedback, and supporting teacher educators to have the greatest impact on teacher candidate learning.

Are informed by K-12 school systems and the communities they serve.
They work in partnership with school systems to respond to their specific hiring needs, ensure clinical practice experiences and induction training are relevant and rigorous, and employ feedback about new teacher success in helping students learn.

For many providers, these principles can’t be achieved without significant changes. So they’ll need to build a sense of urgency that fosters a climate of innovation—and we’ll help them do so. Often this means collaborating with other agencies and organizations and sharing insights and analysis to create new expectations for program completion, teacher licensure, and program approval.

Above all, we are committed to working with those who agree with us that change is not just possible, but imperative. We are excited to learn more in the months and years ahead about what works, and what might work, in preparing new teachers to meet today’s and tomorrow’s challenges. Whatever knowledge we and our partners gain along the way will be spread widely so everyone—students above all—can benefit.

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