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Education 2050

Hamline's School of Education prepares teachers for the classroom of the future

BY marla holt

Hamline University has been educating teachers since its founding in 1854, when Minnesota was still a territory. Its first graduates, sisters Elizabeth and Emily Sorin of the class of 1859, both went on to become teachers, beginning a legacy of leadership in educating educators.

“We’ve always been committed to preparing teachers who prepare children to meet the world’s challenges,” said Marcela Kostihová, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, which includes the School of Education. In order to continue taking the lead in educating teachers, Hamline’s School of Education (HSE) recently undertook a robust program review after substantial administrative restructuring.

HSE has reenergized its commitment to new and established strategic partnerships with schools and districts, restructured its retention and recruitment efforts, and strengthened its curriculum to meet the needs of teachers in the midst of changing classroom dynamics.

These efforts are part of ED2050, a strategic plan that focuses on preparing teachers to meet future challenges in education—such as shifts in demographics and resource allocation—by providing innovative, flexible, and diverse programs.

“We want to be forward thinking,” Kostihová said. “None of us knows exactly what education will look like in 2050, but we want to stop responding to only what’s around the most immediate bend and start thinking about educating the teachers who are going to be the backbone of society going forward.”

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Faculty members in HSE’s master’s programs—including literacy, environmental education, and teaching English to speakers of other languages—are developing shared core curricula to foster connection across the programs, said Bill Lindquist, associate professor and chair of HSE. “We teach around common themes, such as contemporary and critical issues in education, understanding advanced learning, and policy leadership and advocacy,” he said.

Hamline also has redesigned its Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT)—its initial licensure program—to allow undergraduates to complete both an undergraduate and a master’s degree in five years, increasing by 20 percent the number of undergraduates pursuing the MAT degree. MAT licensure can now be obtained in 18 months, an attractive feature for professionals working in other fields, who comprise a growing number of applicants.

Mike Noreen, Hamline’s graduate student advising and success manager, notes that flexibility has traditionally been key to HSE student retention.

“Many schools run cohort programs, which means you can’t step out of a program at any point without starting over,” he said. “We don’t have those limitations at Hamline, which works well for students who have family or work commitments.”

HSE also takes a holistic approach to student support services, offering both a staff and faculty adviser to graduate students from preadmission through graduation.
“Preadmission advising is fairly new to Hamline,” Noreen said. “We’re building relationships with

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 students before they come to Hamline, advising on degree programs, course plans, and so forth. If they do enroll, we’ve already started on maximizing their success.”

Perhaps Hamline’s greatest strength in educating teachers is its commitment to relationship-based, collaborative education, Lindquist said.

“We seek to be student centered both in our own programs and as a pedagogy that we espouse. We’re committed to social justice and equity in the classroom because we believe every student deserves the highest quality education. We want our students and the K–12 students they serve to be able to grow in their ability to act on behalf of a more just society.”

Five Key Trends

We asked Hamline’s HSE faculty members to identify key trends in education. Read on to further understand how Hamline is preparing future educators to become agents of change.

Trend #1: Sustainability in education goes beyond the environment.
The buzzword “sustainability” is often associated with the environment, connected to practices like eliminating plastic straws and reusing hotel towels. But sustainability in the context of education is broadly defined, said Professor Patty Born Selly, director of the Master of Arts in Education: Natural Science and Environmental Education (MAED:NSEE) program.

“Sustainability is a framework that includes environmental education but also culturally sustaining practices, policies, and pedagogies that create equity and a system in which everyone who participates can thrive,” she said.

Selly describes educational sustainability as a set of three intersecting circles—environment, economy, and social systems—that must be balanced to create wellbeing.

Hamline’s MAED:NSEE, accredited by the North American Association of Environmental Education, is the region’s only program that serves both classroom teachers and nonformal educators, such as those who work in museums, zoos, and nature centers. Both cohorts learn the same skills and competencies needed to teach about sustainability.

The online degree attracts students across the country and offers opportunities to study issues affecting local environments. It's recognized by the United Nations as a Global University Partner on Environment and Sustainability for its commitment to helping teachers address sustainability in forward-thinking ways.

The MAED:NSEE program embraces sustainability as all-encompassing, using an environmental lens to examine how the environment impacts culture, the economy, and other systems.

“We work with educators on fostering democratic and inclusive classrooms that create equity for all students,” Selly said.

"We prepare teachers to help the next generation of citizens survive and thrive by considering questions of how schools contribute to sustainable communities. How do they contribute to social justice and public citizenship?”

Trend #2: Culturally and linguistically diverse students are changing the face of education.
Minnesota has the most refugees per capita of any state, many of whom come here through secondary migration seeking family reunification and support from established infrastructure for refugee communities.

“As far as being in the business of schooling, that puts us in a unique position,” said Michelle Benegas, assistant professor of second language teaching and learning in HSE. “Hamline is at the forefront of training teachers to build students’ skills in English while also sustaining the cultural and linguistic diversity that enriches the classroom,” she added.

Hamline is the regional leader for educating teachers of English as a second language, licensing more ESL teachers than any other university in the state. It also offers an on-campus and online master’s degree program, the Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). Hamline’s licensure program is the only one in the region accredited by TESOL International.

Recognizing that many refugees are affected by trauma suffered both in their home countries and here in the United States, Hamline has begun to broaden its program beyond just preparing applied linguists, Benegas said. “We’re looking at ways to equip teachers with knowledge about the emotional and social needs of immigrant youth,” such as bringing in experts on the impact of trauma on the brain and working to better understand trauma-informed practices.

Hamline also has developed the English Learners in the Mainstream (ELM) project, a unique approach to providing best practices for non-ESL teachers who interact daily with English language learners. Funded by a five-year, $1.5 million U.S. Department of Education grant, ELM includes a required course on how to teach language while teaching content for preservice teachers in all fields. It also provides coursework and training for 250 in-service teachers who coach their colleagues—2,500 mainstream teachers in some of Minnesota’s largest school districts—in meeting their students’ linguistic needs.

“The ELM project addresses the need for all teachers to be prepared to educate students from multilingual and multicultural backgrounds,” Benegas said.

Trend #3: Technology is changing how students learn.
While it’s impossible to predict what technology will look like in 2050, it will surely impact classroom learning. Providing access to technology—many schools today provide every student with an iPad, for example—is important, but it’s also key that teachers are able to help students engage with technology in meaningful ways that advance learning, said Professor Mike Reynolds, associate dean of graduate programs in Hamline’s College of Liberal Arts.

“Technology allows for a much more robust individualized engagement with each student’s particular strengths,” he said. “Technology amplifies their learning experience and can also be effective in building equity in the classroom.”


Preparing teachers to engage with technological change is rooted in creating a mindset of flexibility rather than skills training in specific technological tools,

Abdul teacher of the year

Reynolds noted. “They need to be well-versed in many different technologies, but as there’s no guarantee that the tech they learn will be the tech their district uses, it’s more important that they be resilient and adaptive.”    

Many of Hamline’s advanced degrees in education have fully online options, and all incorporate some hybrid experiences. Preservice teachers in clinical practicums at local school districts test-drive using personal devices and educational software as teaching tools to meet learning objectives.

“Our work is pollinated with using the virtual world as a tool for enhanced learning,” Reynolds said.

Trend #4: The need for teachers of color and American Indian teachers is growing, while overall teacher rolls are shrinking.
A 2017 Minnesota Department of Education report stated that there is a 46 percent increase in the number of teachers leaving the profession since 2008, with one-quarter of new teachers leaving within their first three years. At the same time, students who are culturally and linguistically diverse make up 31 percent of Minnesota’s K–12 students while teachers of color and American Indian teachers represent just 4.2 percent of the state’s teacher workforce, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Hamline is working to counteract those numbers by recruiting and supporting students of color and American Indian students and partnering with a Minneapolis-area school district to create a “grow-your-own” teacher pipeline.
 

In 2013, Hamline became one of four institutions selected to administer Minnesota Department of Education Collaborative Urban Educators (CUE) grants, which seek to increase the ethnic and racial diversity of Minnesota’s teacher workforce by providing scholarships to aspiring teachers of color and American Indian teachers.

 

 

"Being Culturally sensitive to students' personal and professional needs sets them up for success."

– Rebecca Neal 
Director of CEUT 

 

 

The CUE grant program also supports mentoring and networking efforts for aspiring teachers of color and American Indian teachers. Student teachers are matched, when possible, with in-service teachers of color and American Indian teachers, an important first step in developing a support system that includes a network of allies, said Professor Rebecca Neal, director of Hamline’s Center for Excellence in Urban Teaching. “Being culturally sensitive to students’ personal and professional needs sets them up for success.”

Hamline also partners with the Mounds View school district to develop aspiring teachers for that community. The university is providing undergraduate education and a pathway to its MAT program to a cohort of high-school students—often from groups underrepresented in teaching—whom the district has identified as strong candidates for a career in teaching. This fall, six students are part of the Mounds View cohort at Hamline, and the number continues to grow.

“The students are given scaffolding and structure to ensure their success,” Reynolds said. They’re guaranteed a student-teaching position within the Mounds View district and, upon successful completion of the program, a teaching position. Reynolds said that other districts have expressed interest in mirroring the partnership, which was initially funded by a grant from the Bush Foundation but is now self-sustaining. “It’s a forward-thinking investment a school district can make in its own community,” he said.

Hamline has a top-notch record in new teacher retention—approximately 90 percent of Hamline education program completers continue teaching into their second year.

Reynolds noted that that success can be attributed to Hamline’s culture of emphasizing the big picture of teaching.

“Our students grapple with questions like what is education for, what is a teacher’s role in the community, and how might they impact policy?” he said.

“They use their experiences in the classroom as research on how to improve learning. They build collaborative networks, developing deep relationships with their classmates at Hamline and then with their students and colleagues in the workforce.”

Trend #5: Classroom learning is experiential and student driven.
Gone are the days of classrooms containing rows of desks with students seated alphabetically quietly listening to the teacher. Students are now actively engaged in their own learning.

One model for experiential, student-driven learning is a lab school—a pre-, elementary, or secondary school that has an affiliation with a college or university. Its four tenets are curriculum and development, educational inquiry and exploration, professional development, and research.

“Lab schools need to be connected to the lived experiences of their students and the communities in which they live,” said Maggie Struck, assistant professor of education at Hamline University.

This fall, Hamline Elementary School (formerly Hancock Elementary on Snelling Avenue across the street from campus) will build on its long-standing partnership with Hamline University to become a lab school. The lab school has received Saint Paul Public School District approval and the unanimous support of Hamline Elementary School’s current teaching staff.

The blended K–5 and higher education learning community will be based on shared progressive educational practices, such as interest-driven learning and design thinking, and a commitment to educational equity.

“Lab schools present opportunities for aspiring teachers to have guided clinical experiences while learning firsthand about instructional methods and the school community,” said Struck, who will be the faculty liaison for the collaboration. For example, Hamline’s MAT students will work with elementary school teachers to design and teach literacy units that align with elementary students’ learning goals.

“This gives [university students] experience connecting theory to practice, so it benefits their own education as well as that of the elementary students,” Struck said.

Future plans include developing a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) fellowship position for a university student to coordinate a makerspace where elementary students can gather to work on projects and share ideas.

The lab school initiative received grant support in its initial year, which will advance the goals of the project and help for a successful launch.

The Hamline to Hamline Collaboration is the first partnership of its kind in the nation between a public elementary school and a university. The 125-year relationship has included academic and athletic department pairings with each grade level, one-on-one mentoring, and inside-the-classroom tutoring.

This shared work has invited the elementary students into the university community, addressing opportunity gaps and creating equity in the classroom while shaping potential pathways to college for all students. Struck envisions these collaborations will continue and anticipates developing new ways for university students to engage with elementary students in transformative, inquiry-based learning.

“We’ll work with the lab school’s students, parents, teachers, and community members to collectively identify the challenges the school faces,” Struck said. “We’ll develop innovative practices and pedagogies that honor students’ experiences and backgrounds while inviting them to be agents of change in their own education. All of the work will help to advance our understanding of student learning.”