Educators are increasingly using personalized learning, technological tools and team-based models to enhance student learning. For Dobson High School senior Christine Peralta, 18, these developments have solidified her interest in the education profession as she begins her own journey to become an elementary school teacher.
“I enjoy coming up with new approaches and projects that make learning fun,” said Peralta, who is planning on attending Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. “I want my students to be excited to come to school every day and be energized to do their best.”
Peralta is among 617 students who are part of Mesa Public Schools’ Career Technical Education — Education Professions Program, which was created to identify students who have demonstrated aptitude or interest in becoming an educator. This month, more than 50 grade nine–12 students had a chance to see what their future might look like at a college campus during a conference that was hosted by the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College and held by Mesa Public Schools, the largest public school district in Arizona.
Some, such as Peralta, have already chosen to pursue university or college programs.
“These future teachers will be joining the profession at an exciting and critical juncture as learning approaches evolve,” said Carlyn Ludlow, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College clinical associate professor and associate director of undergraduate programs in the division of teacher preparation. “Preparing these students with a strong pedagogical foundation and an innovator's mindset ensures that they are prepared to contribute as individuals, as part of team-based models and through leadership opportunities.”
Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College has worked closely with Mesa Public Schools to support K–12 teacher pathway efforts and the advancement of team-based classroom models that are based on the college's Next Education Workforce initiative. In these models, teachers work on teams instead of working as one teacher, alone, in one classroom. This allows teachers to identify their unique expertise to deliver deeper and personalized learning to all students.
An increasing number of students in the Mesa Public Schools' Education Professions Program are participating in schools that incorporate the team-teaching approaches that are core to the Next Education Workforce initiative, which means they may be even more prepared to participate in schools using these models. Such approaches align with the goal of the Career Technical Education — Education Professions Program to strengthen educator pathways and retention.
A study of school-based Next Education Workforce models by Johns Hopkins University’s Institute for Education Policy, which was based on Mesa Public Schools teacher surveys, indicates that educators in these models are more satisfied, collaborate more and believe they have better teacher-student interactions than educators in traditional staffing models.
“It’s important for future educators to understand that the way that we learn, and the way that they will teach and design instruction for learning, is continuously evolving,” said Tracy Yslas, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning at Mesa Public Schools. “These students have expressed interest in being part of that evolution, and they also see an opportunity to deepen their own learning through the team-based models being used at our schools.”
During the event at ASU, students learned about different ways to develop lesson plans, the advantages of team-based teaching models and the steps it takes to become a teacher.
“Our goal is to encourage more students to explore education as a career path, and this conference reinforces that by getting students to literally step into a learning environment where they might start to see themselves outside of high school,” said Marlo Loria, director of career and technical education and innovative partnerships at Mesa Public Schools.
At the conference, students participated in workshops about how their career path might evolve from teacher to educator leader and other administrative roles. They learned about the steps involved in earning a degree from Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College student outreach advisors, and participated in project-based activities. In one room, students took turns playing with puzzles and toys while identifying how these exercises connect to specific learning objectives.
Eileen Lopez Dominguez, 18, who attends Mesa High School, says she is excited about what the future holds.
“I want to inspire others through education to help them reach their fullest potential,” said Dominguez, who is planning to pursue her studies at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. “Being a teacher means you have the potential to make a huge impact in the lives of the people you are teaching and make our communities even stronger.”
Mesa High School student Ali Macias, 18, says she is drawn to becoming an educator because she believes strongly that everyone should have the opportunity to learn and better themselves.
“I wish more people would consider becoming educators because there is so much reward you get from helping someone learn and grow,” Macias said. “The thing that excites me, too, is that there are so many opportunities to learn and grow as an educator yourself.”
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