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Documentary casts light on novice teacher experience

Novice teacher documentary

By Emily Kirkwood
May 18, 2018

“Training in a context, and then having your first job in that same kind of situation, you are going to be a better teacher, and that evidence is pretty strong.”
— Jenny DeMonte, senior technical assistance consultant, American Institutes for Research

Clinically oriented teacher preparation programs, which provide teaching candidates with in-the-field experience, constitute one of the seven topics covered in the Midwest Alliance to Improve Teacher Preparation (MAITP) research agenda. Broadly, the alliance’s research agenda explores how to prepare teachers for success in the classroom and in their careers. MAITP members wanted to examine issues surrounding teacher preparation and the new teacher experience, and saw an opportunity in 2017 to build awareness of the existing knowledge on this topic by creating a short documentary in partnership with Detroit Public Television (DPTV).

For several years, REL Midwest has partnered with local public television stations throughout the region to create programming that examines existing research on important education topics. These topics have ranged from early childhood education to postsecondary success. For this program, MAITP partnered with DPTV to create a 30-minute documentary titled State of Teacher Preparation: Research and Stories from Early Years in the Classroom. This project marked the second collaboration between REL Midwest and DPTV, following a 2016 program on the implementation of continuous improvement research processes to improve mathematics outcomes in Michigan schools.

The State of Teacher Preparation introduces research on preparing and supporting new teachers, with a focus on clinical experience and mentorship. The documentary also features three novice teachers in Metro Detroit who reflect on their preparation and early experiences in the classroom, as well as interviews with veteran teachers, school leaders, researchers, and leaders from teacher preparation programs and the Michigan Department of Education.

This documentary reflects many of MAITP’s priorities over the 5-year REL Midwest contract, and the partnership members played an active role in the development of the program. They identified people to interview (and even appeared in the documentary themselves!), reviewed early versions of the documentary, and shared the final documentary with their networks. They also contributed to a screening of the documentary at Wayne State University in Detroit in November 2017, which nearly 30 educators from various schools, districts, universities, and other education institutions attended.

The documentary aired May 7, 2018, on DPTV, and is available to watch online on the REL Midwest website, where visitors also will find a viewing guide for the documentary.

Ultimately, MAITP created this documentary to increase awareness and spark conversations about the important issues addressed in the partnership’s research agenda. Watching and sharing the documentary, as well as using the discussion questions suggested in the viewing guide, may be an important first step in building a discourse about opportunities to improve the novice teacher experience in Michigan and elsewhere.

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Author(s) Information

Meredith Lukow Picture

Emily Kirkwood

Communications Specialist | REL Midwest


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