MSU changes teacher preparation curriculum for elementary school

LANSING, Michigan (WLNS) – For years schools across the country have faced a teacher shortage and the pandemic has only made matters worse. But at Michigan State University, they’re redesigning their curriculum to help prepare students for classroom life.

Tonya Bartell, associate professor and associate director of elementary programs at the university, says the new changes won’t solve the teacher shortage, but they could help. The program will give these future teachers the tools and support they need to improve future generations.

A new transformation is coming to the Elementary Teacher Preparation Program of the College of Education.

“We reflected on what was important to us and what we know is important for high quality beginning teachers,” Bartell said.

After changes to the Michigan Department of Education’s requirements for teacher certifications, the College of Education felt it was time for a change as well. The state focuses on specific grade levels that teachers can choose to teach, Kindergarten to Grade 3 or Grades 3 to 6. Now MSU is doing the same.

Prospective teachers will also specialize in teaching English to students as a second language or those with special needs, which Bartell says is needed right now.

They are also expanding their social justice courses for students hoping to become teachers.
“Knowing the content, knowing the pedagogy, then also knowing something like how to support English learners, or how to support students with disabilities in that same setting,” she said. “Every room is different, and if we are serious about supporting all children and their learning, we have to understand all of these differences. To make you a more effective teacher for a wider range of students.

Bartell says the new changes only strengthen the skills of their students at a time when teachers are few and far between.

“We prepare teachers to have a range of specialties and are ready to work with a wide range of students and I think that gives them the tools they need to be successful,” she said.

And she says it’s a small step in the right direction.
“I am frustrated with a narrative and a society that don’t seem to respect and support teachers enough to truly recognize the importance of what they do. Our goal is really to help them know not only to anticipate change, but who they can turn to for support and help and how they can navigate this train, ”Bartell said.

The entire redefined curriculum will officially begin in the 2021-2022 school year, but some students are already taking some of the additional courses for the new changes.

About Mark A. Tomlin

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