Does A "Residency" Year Make A Classroom Difference?


Most people lump alternative certification programs into one big category, but they are not all the same. 

One of the programs with a residency component, run by AUSL and National Louis, just got a $3 million grant from the USDE.  This is new for the USDE to award these grants to residency models.  AUSL claims that it’s trained over 300 teachers and has a retention rate of over 87 percent

So here’s the question:  Does a residency year make enough of a difference to be worth the extra cost?  Are AUSL grads any different or better than TFA grads or traditional certificate teachers?  Let us know if you’ve been through the program, worked with the residents, or seen them in action after they’re graduated. Alt cert isn’t going away — but maybe it’s getting better.   


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  • We have, over the years, Golden Apple scholars at our school. They are by far the best prepared and they stay the longest.
    The TFAers run like they are on fire after less than 1 year or if they cannot become a principal.

  • Many many of the AUSL "residents" I have worked with were woefully unprepared by their program and weren't supported very well by the coaching they received. I have worked with a few really great resident teachers, but many weren't ready at all for the profession and many have left the system.

  • I'm a Chicago Teaching Fellow and definitely feel prepared. I taught for a year prior to entering the program in a private school and previously was a CSW, working in inner city hospital psych wards and also running in-school counseling groups etc. I can't say that everyone in my cohort is prepared but a lot of us come with strong backgrounds working in the trenches. TFA is a whole other animal. They seem to be the exception, focusing on academic credentials over experience. The career changers are the stars of my program.

  • I am graduate of the residency program and I do think that spending a year in the classroom with an experienced teacher was the only way (for me) to go. I researched other programs (the ones mentioned above) before choosing to apply to AUSL mostly because of the classroom residency.
    I too have had friends try the Teaching Fellows program and none of them have made it through a year.
    I'm not saying that this program is for everyone, but I do think that the people who leave, or are "woefully unprepared" as another commentor said, do not sincerely want to be teachers. And sometimes it takes going through a tough program and then taking on the most challenging job in the world to realize that.
    I'm not sure that anything can really prepare a person for this career. I've never done anything so hard in my life. But if I had to do it again, I'd go with AUSL, flaws and all.

  • The AUSL residency is meant to offer help in terms of creating a well-rounded and well-versed educator. As a graduate of the program (who is now a mentor), I believe in the model. What I have just stated is an attempt to point to my bias, but what I would like to do now is to take a objective look at this controversial endeavor.
    As Maria Montessori once said, "The teacher must derive not only the capacity, but the desire, to observe natural phenomena. The teacher must understand and feel her position of observer". Aside from her candid remark on gender, I believe that she is correct. This quote does force us wonder where the teacher is to derive this capacity and desire from, and that answer seems to be from a mentor or instructor who is present to point out a path. This is the key to the AUSL program. The AUSL model does not thrust new educator's into under-performing schools and ask them to accomplish amazing things. Rather, AUSL thrusts new teachers into a classroom on day one and provides a safe and nurturing environment for learning and constant attention. It is a place to make mistakes and learn from them in "real-time" without harming the education of the class (let us not forget the students).
    As I pause to think about other jobs, whether it be a doctor, plumber, janitor, or lawyer, I do notice one thing in common. That is, in all of these professions the worker is receiving on the job training before they are let go to run free by themselves. They are shown the ropes. More then that though, they are taught how to combat very serious and challenging issues that arise on a daily basis as well as how to love there profession.
    It is my thinking that many people take an early exit from teaching due to their inability to never get over the treading water stage; they do not ever get to the full and tender embrace of happiness that does come from this profession. I believe having a mentor helps foster that happiness in each resident. It is quite a thing to behold, that is, a mentor teacher who knows how to practice a craft in such a way that seems both seamless and tireless. It is also very hard to not begin to make that a part of who you are as a resident. Aside from learning how to educate, a mentor often-times teaches resident's how to love what they do, and that is a gift that can be a game-changer. Teachers who love what they do, and have the capacity to do it well, are what our students need, and it seems be what AUSL is providing.
    Lastly, I would like to ask all reading this to think about the way in which you view the world, your job, or anything else of value in your life. While you view these things on a deeply personal level, you have actually learned how to judge and place value from outside sources (in many cases). They have been taught how to observe. This observation is critical to human development on all levels, especially in the classroom. My mentor taught me how to read situations, students, and countless other things. I do not think I would be as good as I am today without her and the wisdom that she was aloud to share with me not just over days, but over days, weeks, months, and years.

  • Let us stop the lies coming out of City Hall and CPS. They make up things as they go along. Chicago, we can judge how CPS is working or not working to improve the building of healthy professional communities in each school by reading the watershed report published this year by the National Staff Development Council: United States Is Substantially Behind Other Nations in Providing Teacher Professional Development That Improves Student Learning; Report Identifies Practices that Work

    Daley and Huberman cannot hide behind their "innovative" never explained actions. We have the benchmarks to judge them based on the best practices from around the world.

  • I am a graduate of the AUSL residency program, work at one of AUSL's turnaround schools, and have worked assisting Chicago Teaching Fellows in their summer practicum. I don't know any TFA graduates who are still in teaching. That being my particular experience, here are my thoughts:

    It's easy to feed into the rumors and negativity surrounding in education and teachers. Staying clear of that tendency, I will generalize that
    alternative certification programs are for some people, but not all. Some people, regardless of training, will decide that teaching isn't for them. It's easy to point to them as the reason that teaching doesn't work. On the flip side, some people have natural talent before they even select a program, and it doesn't matter what path they take: they will become teachers no matter what. What matters, though, is the number of people who start out not knowing much about the field and truly progress. The real evaluation of any teacher prep program should be in its teacher retention, especially after the first five years of teaching.

    This being said, what I like about AUSL and what I feel sets AUSL apart from other programs, is that it offers ongoing mentorship and coaching beyond the first year of teaching. AUSL residents graduate not only with the standard "teaching toolkit" and a readiness but a preexisting network of resources and colleagues. I think that this goes a long way to take graduates past the 3-5 year "hump" and take them into the field permanently as a calling rather than a job.

  • Ok here's the deal....AUSL may prepare teachers to be more "gutsy and aware" when in the classroom,but everyone seems to be missing the main point...THE STUDENTS. How is AUSL exactly going to handle students that are chronically truant,that are 16 and cannot read, that come into the classroom and throw chairs,etc.? Let me have a secret formula that automatically transforms these students into geniuses on their way to Harvard,right? This "AUSL turnaround" is ridiculous,to the point of being funny because the kids are not going to change because social factors cannot be changed and until the mayor and city council decide to do something realistic to change these plagued neighborhoods for the citizens already living there, these schools are going to continue being in the foxhole.

    "Hi look at me...I'm an AUSL teacher. I'm 23,white,grew up in suburbia with rich CEO parents that gave me everything I ever wanted. I have no idea about what living in the ghetto is all about, but I have a degree in African-American studies so I know all about how to bring this world together in peaceful harmony. I feel so guilty being white and privileged and I can't sleep at night knowing so many unfortunate souls are suffering. Therefore,I will go to each of their houses in the morning and make them breakfast,give them rides home at the end of the day and buy them dinner,go hang out with them on the weekends,buy them clothes,buy them cars,pay for their college tuition and anything else I can do to become a martyr! Sign me up! I will gladly give up my entire personal life in lieu of helping these poor,unfortunate kids. We are the world and utopia starts with me! HOORAY!"

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