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New Teacher Residency Program Aims At Higher Teacher Retention In Kansas City

Kauffman Foundation

A new teacher training program in Kansas City hopes to mimic the medical residency training model in order to draw talented educators into the profession and keep them in the classroom long-term. 

The Kansas City Teacher Residency will place new teachers — or "residents" — in a one-year apprenticeship in a high-needs city school. Each new teacher will get intensive one-on-one coaching from a master teacher acting as a full-time mentor. 

"This is what we know sets teachers up for success," says Aaron North, vice president of education for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. "Being observed, getting feedback, having that opportunity to make those adjustments with an experienced educator guiding and mentoring you." 

North says it will give the new teachers of the program a chance to "hone their craft" as they learn how to teach. They will also take graduate-level courses while they work in schools. 

The Kauffman Foundation has partnered with Urban Teacher Residency United, a national nonprofit that specializes in building residency-type training programs for teachers. The teacher residency model is explicitly built off what typically happens in the medical field, only over a longer period of time. 

"You see this in all kinds of fields," North says. "Medicine, law, and education: working under the guidance of a master helps you build your own skills."

The Kauffman Foundation this week hired Charles King, a veteran teacher and principal from Houston, to direct the Kansas City Teacher Residency. 

"This is an exciting time to be in Kansas City," King said in a press release. "There is already a flourishing community of committed, passionate teachers and supporters of high-quality schools and programs here." 

King will get a year to 18 months of "runway" to build the program, according to Kauffman officials. This will likely involve tasks like recruiting staff and coaches, building relationships with schools in the metro area, and developing a curriculum for  courses the residents will take during their apprenticeship. 

The Kauffman Foundation will provide initial funding to pay King's salary this year. But Foundation officials say the hope is the Kansas City Teacher Residency will eventually grow into an independent non-profit organization.

A Mathematica studyreleased late last year concluded that 30 teacher residency programs had slightly higher rates of retention for the teachers trained in those models than more traditionally trained teachers. (Ninety-two percent after two years compared to 90 percent.)

In addition, the study concluded that residency programs broaden the pool of potential teachers and lead their trainees to make distinct career changes into the teaching profession. 

"This is something that has worked in other cities," North says. "We think the students and families of Kansas City deserve the same thing." 

Kyle Palmer is the editor of the Shawnee Mission Post, a digital news outlet serving Northeast Johnson County, Kansas. He previously served as KCUR's news director and morning newscaster.
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