New teaching for new teachers

Katie Miller

Staff Writer

The education department is taking steps in a positive direction this academic year. Not only did it introduce new professors this semester, it is looking ahead to future years in preparing Troy students for their careers.

Kelly Jewell, assistant professor for the Teacher Education Program, stresses the importance of communication among teachers.

“The faculty in teacher education are constantly connecting classes and referencing one another,” Jewell said. “I have even started attending other professors’ classes to learn more.”

Katrina Beck, a junior elementary education major from Leesburg, Georgia, enjoys new faculty member Etheridge’s class. “I feel like I have learned a bunch under her instruction so far and feel like she will be a great asset to the education department,” Beck said.

“It was bittersweet to see some faculty retire, but bringing new faces to the faculty allows us as students to have more exposure to different perspectives and experiences,” Beck said. The only frustration Beck has with the education department is registering for classes, because “they fill up so quickly, and a limited number of sections are available. However, I think the same can be said campuswide.”

Rachel Truebig, a sophomore elementary education major from Montgomery, said that bringing in new teachers is a “great advancement in the program.”

Truebig has Jewell for her diverse learners course, and so far the class is going well.

“I have enjoyed her class the most out of the classes that I am taking this semester,” Truebig said.

Truebig finds nothing frustrating about the education department. “It is challenging me to manage my time well while pushing me to be the best future teacher I can be.”

In Troy’s quest to implement positive change to the education department, a new assessment called the Education Teacher Performance Assessment will be administered to all initially licensed teachers in Alabama.

The edTPA will provide an in-depth look into the teaching profession. This will give students an idea of how to run their classrooms as new teachers.

Currently, Troy students in the education department must pass PRAXIS exams before their internships. The edTPA will be completed during the internship when it is applicable.

According to Joseph Johnson, the edTPA coordinator for the College of Education, “the edTPA will be accepted in place of one current PRAXIS test, but other PRAXIS tests will still be required.”

“The edTPA focuses on planning, instruction and assessment,” Johnson said. While determining how to run a classroom effectively by recording teaching sessions, the edTPA “will require a collection of student work samples, data analysis and additional materials, all of which will be uploaded to the website for official scoring,” Johnson said.

As an education major, Beck has studied the edTPA and said it will be a step in the right direction for her department.

“I think it could be really good, especially for people looking to go out of state,” Beck said. “Our normal classes are preparing us for it. It shouldn’t be that bad.”

“I think the edTPA requires a higher degree of self-reflection about teaching, and our students have to understand that,” Johnson said. “It will be a challenge, but one I’m very confident our students can handle. Starting in August 2018, they have to handle it.”

Since Jewell helped design the edTPA handbook, as well as created benchmarks and grading rubrics to evaluate new teachers, her opinion on the edTPA is definitely well informed.

“We cannot continue the status quo and old traditions,” Jewell said. “We need an assessment that evaluates teacher candidates to demonstrate their ability to teach students.”

“I do want to say this is not perfect,” Jewell said, “but this will push us to make sure we are providing the best, evidence-based practices for our teacher candidates.”

Because I am not an education major, it is difficult for me to understand all that education students must go through in order to be future teachers. The course work they do must be rigorous; it has to be if they are going to be quality teachers.

I think the edTPA will prove to be a great new assessment for Troy University. Not only will the test be helpful to future teachers, but also it will benefit the students each Troy graduate will have the opportunity to teach. Education majors should feel safe knowing they will graduate having passed the edTPA.

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