News Story

NSU College of Education steps up amidst Oklahoma teacher shortages

(Tahlequah, Oklahoma) -- In the face of declining numbers of Oklahoma teachers, the Northeastern State University College of Education (COE) is helping to provide solutions.

From networking and recruitment efforts to immersive learning and innovation opportunities, NSU is stepping up to create excitement about the field of education with future teachers, to improve the quality of its graduating students, and to enhance its support of current teaching professionals.

Networking

COE administrators meet regularly with regional professionals, including the Second Century Advisory Committee, a group of area school superintendents and principals. Together, they discuss what can be done to address the growing teacher shortage on a local level. On a state level, administrators are also part of a task force created by Oklahoma State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister.

Continuing Education

COE has introduced a new master’s degree in instructional leadership. The new program, which is set to begin in the fall, will be completely online to make it easier for current classroom teachers to obtain needed certifications.

This new degree program is the result of a needs analysis with partner schools in the area.

Recruitment

On Jan. 25, about 250 middle and high school students from about 170 schools will converge on Northeastern’s Tahlequah campus for the Celebration of Teaching event as part of COE’s annual RiverHawk Academy for Future Teachers.

Visitors will hear from the national and state teachers of the year and participate in hands-on activities that model the way the college prepares its teacher candidates.

And while students might not be interested in teaching before the event, said Dr. Debbie Landry, COE dean, surveys from previous years indicate the event shifts students’ thinking about careers in education.

“It’s part of an ongoing process of being out there early and often to talk to young people about education and how important the profession is,” Landry said.

Celebration of Teaching is one of several recruitment events hosted by COE throughout the year. The Academy is funded through a combination of the Celebration of Teaching grant, the Project Hope grant and COE.

Immersive learning

COE provides several immersive learning opportunities with partner schools throughout Green Country to better prepare teachers and keep them in the profession longer.

Through the Teaching and Urban Reform Network (TURN), teacher candidates are enrolled in a class that’s embedded in a Tulsa school. Landry said students meet for class in the school, so they’re able to immediately apply the lessons in a classroom setting.

The Education Professionally Immersed in Co-Teaching (EPIC) program allows teacher candidates to spend more time in the classroom. Instead of the traditional one-semester internship, students are placed at a school site for the entire year.

“From the first day of school to the last day of school, they are working with highly qualified teachers, getting about twice the hours in a classroom, and that means getting experience,” Landry said.

Innovations

NSU is the only education program in the United States that requires all teacher candidates to complete a robotics module in an emerging technology class.

The module, Robotics Academy of Critical Engagement (RACE), is modeled after a similar program Landry observed in Taiwan. Using drag-and-drop technology, future teachers at NSU program robots as a team and get a first-hand look at the learning process.

“Students learn in different ways; they have different ways of approaching a task and this models that for them,” Landry said.

COE also takes the program to partner schools in the area to teach local teachers to use robots in the classroom.

“Everything we do here is focused on improving the quality of instruction for our candidates, but we’re also always looking to the impact on the student in the K-12 classroom and this program does that,” Landry said.

The Cherokee Nation assisted with funding as an early partner in the RACE program.

“Through our programs and collaborations we hope to brighten the educational landscape for our future teachers and students,” Landry said.

Published: 1/24/2017 4:23:13 PM

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