by Megan Parry
Curriculum and Program Manager
For the last year I’ve been working with a small group of university Teacher Education Programs (TEPs) from across the country on an exciting new project to prepare preservice teachers in PBL during their student teaching experience so they enter the classroom ready to use PBL “out of the gate.” The project, officially called Out of the Gate: Preparing Preservice Teachers to Use PBL Through PBL also trains and support TEP faculty to shift their courses and programs to use PBL to teach PBL. With this post I am thrilled to announce that we are looking for a new TEP/district partner to join the project. The application is open through June 4, 2018. Read on to find out more about the project and this first year!
Out of the Gate is a new and innovative project for BIE and is made possible with generous funding from ECMC Foundation. As you probably know, most teachers don’t learn about PBL until after they’ve been in the classroom for a number of years. That’s certainly who attends most of the professional development that BIE’s offers: inservice teachers and leaders. In the PBL 101 workshops I’ve attended I often hear the question from participants, sometimes with an air of frustration especially from those who graduated from their TEP more recently, why didn’t I learn about PBL as an instructional approach while I was still in school? It’s a good question, and that is what we’re working on with the Out of the Gate project. It’s the first time we’ve ever collaborated with higher ed to reach faculty and preservice teachers and it’s been a very exciting and rewarding first year.
Our Progress So Far
In 2017-2018, we trained 56 preservice and cooperating teachers and 36 faculty members from four institutions throughout the fall and spring semesters. The training in Out of the Gate customizes BIE’s PBL professional development, creating a specific arc of learning to build preservice teacher and faculty capacity in PBL. This includes a Project Slice, PBL 101, and two follow up support visits for all participants. There is also an online course to develop the PBL coaching capacity of faculty and cooperating teachers. Finally, there’s an Implementation and Sustainability Lab for faculty to reflect and develop next steps for their own instruction and their program as a whole.
The year culminates with a PBL Symposium event where all the participants—preservice teachers, cooperating teachers and faculty—share their experiences and what they learned from designing and implementing at least one project during their student teaching semester. The symposium events were just held during March and April. Check out the Out of the Gate newsletter for more details and stories from those events with our three current partners, Grand Valley State University (Allendale, MI), Otterbein University (Westerville, OH) and University of Mary (Bismarck, ND). Out of the Gate is being evaluated by Education Northwest.
A final and perhaps most important note about this project is that, given the equity-driven missions of both BIE and ECMCF, we are engaging with preservice teachers who represent a diversity of different backgrounds and classrooms. We look for student teachers who reach K-12 students who are furthest from opportunity, so that, when they enter their own classrooms, Out of the Gate teachers are ready to engage all students in meaningful deeper learning.
Interested universities can find more information and an application here for Out of The Gate.