As schools get ready for a busy back to school season here in Atlanta, twenty new teacher residents will be joining the classrooms of exemplary teachers across the city to co-teach lessons, learn best practices, and be mentored by some of Atlanta’s best instructors. This is all happening through CREATE.
CREATE is a 3-year teacher residency program. This first began in 2012 through the Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School. It has since grown to be a collaborative program across 14 participating schools in the Atlanta Public Schools district. Our mission in developing this program is to raise student engagement and success by increasing teacher effectiveness and retention and improving school climate within local public charter and traditional neighborhood schools of historically underserved communities.
How do we accomplish this?
By leading a program that uses research-based practices and is truly responsive to teacher needs to address the common challenges they face when starting out in their careers. For example, new teachers frequently cite a desire for more practice teaching with expert guidance, so our residency program supports them across three years, nearly unheard of for a residency program. We value providing them as much hands-on supported teaching as possible, and aligning mentoring and instructional experiences with the extensive education theory they learn (and other experiences they engage) while at the university. Additionally, our new teachers learn contemplative practices for emotional regulation, participate in transformational professional learning communities, and engage work to address issues of equity.
After receiving degrees and certifications (through the university) during their first year), residents are paired with standout Atlanta Public School teachers that are leading the kinds of innovative and successful classrooms we want to replicate. They then continue on to spend the next 2 years learning with guidance in their own classrooms, yet with significant mentoring by two expert teachers.
Seeing the Problem and Providing a Solution:
A problem we see affecting new teachers is the difficulty that schools, school districts, and local universities have in coordinating new teacher supports as the teachers move between these institutions. This is a complex process with many moving parts, and it can end up causing tension is learning theories are misaligned or training supports are misunderstood . CREATE is working to address these structural barriers by leading initiatives aimed at building stronger relationships among these different players, ultimately leading to better alignment on these issues.
We’re thrilled with the success we’ve seen in Atlanta classrooms as CREATE has continued to grow. New teacher retention among residents of our program is significantly higher than average, and APS mentors request to return year after year, stating their own work as educators has improved as a result. In the coming years, we’re hoping to expand CREATE to even more Atlanta partner schools so aspiring teachers and schools can get the support they need to set up all our city’s young learners up for success.
* Content provided by Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School
* Special thanks to WeAreRALLY.com
Jason has worked in education for over 15 years as a teacher, blogger and community advocate. He speaks and writes primarily about the need to improve education for Black boys, particularly increasing the number of Black male educators in schools. In addition to blogging here at EdLanta, Jason is also a featured writer at Education Post.