Here’s how these teacher educators are building a community of practice to transform their teacher preparation program

TeachingWorks Director of English Language Arts Dr. Monique Cherry-McDaniel spoke with University of St. Thomas Faculty members Dr. Amy Smith and Dr. Muffet Trout about how being fellows in the TeachingWorks Practice-Based Teacher Education Certificate Learning Sequence is supporting them to implement program-wide change in their department.

photo of three teachers

As an educator, implementing even the smallest change in your instruction can seem like a daunting task. But what types of positive, long-lasting impact can teacher educators have on teacher preparation when they collaborate to design and implement change together?

Meet Dr. Amy Smith and Dr. Muffet Trout, both Associate Professors of Teacher Education at the University of St. Thomas. Amy additionally serves as the Chair of the Department of Teacher Education and the Director of K-12 Reading Endorsement. Both Amy and Muffet are two of 29 fellows in the TeachingWorks Practice-Based Teacher Education (PBTE) Certificate Learning Sequence. With support from TeachingWorks, Amy and Muffet are collaborating with three other St. Thomas teacher educators who are also fellows in the certificate learning sequence to implement practice-based teacher education that intertwines content knowledge, teaching practice, and advancing justice across their teacher preparation program.

“Having five and six faculty members who have been through some of the training or all of the training has been huge,” Amy said. “The academic language of TeachingWorks and the high-leverage practices and practice-based teacher education has been really able to be taken up by all of our faculty. And what we’ve been able to do is spend time together over the last year and a half mapping our high-leverage practices onto each course. And part of that is not just the high-leverage practices, but what that lens of social justice brings to the high-leverage practice. So we have this really cohesive, consistent through-line of equity that’s not added on, it’s integral.”

TeachingWorks Director of English Language Arts Dr. Monique Cherry-McDaniel, who is the co-director of the certificate learning sequence, spoke with Amy and Muffet to learn more about how they’ve worked together to refresh their teacher preparation program by using the skills and techniques they have learned from their participation in the certificate learning sequence.

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Monique: You joined the certificate learning sequence already having a long and successful career as a teacher educator and the chair of your program at the University of St. Thomas. How has working with TeachingWorks and being a fellow in the certificate learning sequence improved your practice as an expert in the field?

Amy: I’ve been at St. Thomas for 20 years and I’ve enjoyed teaching so much. And teaching for me has really always been a real strength. But teaching and learning through the TeachingWorks program has been a real game-changer. It has allowed me to continue my professional growth. The TeachingWorks programming that I have been part of has been the single most important professional development of my career. Over time it has been my pursuit to always be a better teacher, to be better at my job, to better support students so that we can have an impact in the P-12 schools. But TeachingWorks has been an invigorator, and a re-energizer. It’s changed our department. We have enough people involved who are also doing this work that is really moving the needle on how we are preparing our teachers. It’s exciting to see real change happening. This TeachingWorks programming has been an incredible boost to my own professional development at this stage in my career where I can use it to leverage greater impact through our department and then into schools.