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Teacher training: what's the best way?

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One relatively new alternative model is the urban teacher residency. It produces only a small fraction of America's 3.9 million teachers, yet those going through the program seem to be well trained and willing to teach in the highest-needs classrooms – and to stay there for many years.

"There's traditionally a barrier between what happens in the classroom setting and what happens in university course work," says Anissa Listak, executive director of the Urban Teacher Residency Institute in Chicago. "Unlike traditional university programs where the course work is the center and the apprenticeship fits itself around that, the residency flips that on its head."

A full year in Chicago classrooms

The Academy of Urban School Leadership in Chicago, where Klinsky works now, is one of three well-established urban teacher residencies in the United States. Each AUSL resident spends a full year in Chicago classrooms, paired with a trained mentor-teacher who gives feedback, coaching, and a chance to gradually have more control over the curriculum. For that year, each resident is paid $32,000 by AUSL, a nonprofit. The money for such payments is obtained largely through fundraising.

The residents' in-classroom experience is accompanied by relevant education course work at a local university, culminating in a master's degree. In addition, the program demands that residents make a four-year commitment to continue teaching in Chicago schools when they graduate. For the first two years on the job, they can count on more coaching and support at their school.

The result: Even after the four-year commitment is up, more than 80 percent of AUSL grads are still teaching in Chicago classrooms, and 87 percent are involved in education in some way.

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