CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- The University of Northern Iowa was awarded a more than $500,000 grant by the Iowa Department of Education and was selected to be one of two Iowa institutions of higher education to pilot a yearlong student teaching program.
UNI's College of Education and the grant's second recipient, Dordt College in Sioux Center, will implement the program, evaluate its effectiveness and offer insight to the Iowa Department of Education at the completion of the initiative.
This program will offer UNI student teachers an authentic teaching experience before graduating and working in their own classrooms. UNI will partner with schools in Waterloo, Hudson and Linn-Mar school districts to implement the program. Student teachers will fully immerse themselves into the host schools by carrying out daily classroom instruction, attending university coursework taught onsite, participating in professional development trainings, joining parent teacher conferences and other activities done every day by teachers. The student teachers and their host teachers will co-teach, with the students doing more observation early in the program and transitioning to more lead teaching as they gain experience. During the initial year, about 30 student teachers will participate in the pilot program.
With UNI's long history as the state's teachers college, it was important to UNI's teacher education personnel to be involved in the pilot program. "The state wanted a public and private university to look at this yearlong student teaching option, and we at UNI wanted to be a part of that. We'll get information for the state so they have our findings to determine any next steps," said J.D. Cryer, coordinator of elementary education at UNI and primary investigator on the project.
UNI has a strong history of preparing teachers to educate the pre-K through 12 students of Iowa. Dating back to 1876, UNI has helped lead the state with its innovative spirit and willingness to experiment using new teaching methodologies and practices. Based upon this reputation, UNI has developed strong collaborative partnerships with school districts across Iowa, hired outstanding faculty to bring best practices to the field of education, and has been a beacon to individuals wanting to pursue a dream of becoming a teacher.
"We are very honored that we are able to showcase the expansiveness of our Teacher Education Program at UNI through this pilot," said Dwight Watson, dean of the College of Education. "We have always taken great pride in being innovators and pioneers in teacher preparation. The awarding of the pilot will allow us to research the feasibility, effectiveness and scalability of yearlong student teaching. Our collaborative school districts are excited about the possibilities."