The importance of committed teachers in education cannot be overstated. The student-educator relationship is especially key in STEM courses—science, technology, engineering and math. Teachers who can deliver the key lessons in STEM curriculum can change the educational and economic trajectory of their students. Students often revisit these teachers for advice and enrichment as they progress through middle school and during high school. Retaining experienced teachers remains a central tenet of every successful school.
A new program at California State University, Chico will focus on improving a key component of STEM education: computational literacy. The CLASS (Computational Literacy Across Secondary Settings) Project will recruit 72 highly qualified educators dedicated to teaching in high-need middle and high schools. These select 72 teachers are projected to impact the learning of more than 10,000 rural students in their classrooms and the learning environments of their mentors and colleagues.
CLASS represents a partnership between the CSU, Chico College of Communication & Education, College of Humanities & Fine Arts, and the College of Natural Sciences with six rural schools in regional districts including Gridley, Live Oak, and Willows. The Butte, Glenn and Sutter County Offices of Education and the Butte-Glenn Community College District are also key members of this collaboration.
The post-baccalaureate teaching residency will provide a secondary credential in mathematics, science, English language arts, or special education and a Master of Arts in Teaching. Candidates will receive a living stipend during this innovative teacher preparation program. Each Resident will participate in a year-long full-time residency designed to enhance his/her content knowledge and develop greater expertise in computational literacy.
This intensive residency comprises rigorous, graduate-level coursework, and will reinforce the education of future rural district educators in several key areas, including critical STEM. Over the five-year term of the grant, the project partners are determined to institutionalize these reforms to guarantee that all current and future students benefit directly.
The program will also greatly improve each teacher’s computational literacy to better prepare them as educators and mentors for others. Improving student computational literacy—the ability to prosper in the digital age, a key component of CLASS—is now considered the most important academic asset toward postgraduate vocational and community success. The CLASS partnership demonstrates that, like the students they teach, educators require ongoing support if they are to establish and maintain their teaching tenure in rural schools. The project is designed to offer this enrichment during the novice teaching years by creating a positive experience for the teachers.
In addition to classroom-based research, each resident will engage in a full-time, intensive clinical environment while working with a hand-selected, dedicated mentor teacher. Each mentor has also been trained to implement Argument-Driven Inquiry that instills skills in computational literacy. The project will also improve computational literacy across all content areas with an emphasis on mathematics, science, English and special education.
Like all highly skilled professions, from medicine to engineering, each teacher’s education should be long on immersion, mentoring, and practicum. Every educator should experience the opportunity to find one’s bearings, reinforce concepts, perform management techniques, and dialog about what works best for specific students in an individual classroom. An educational residency provides the ideal environment for a teaching candidate to hone these critical skills.
CLASS graduate students develop a classroom inquiry plan and conduct ongoing research in their residency classrooms. Each resident presents the results of this action research, which may include classroom problem-solving, data collection and analysis, quantitative and qualitative reasoning, creating and implementing co-teaching and co-planning strategies, and generally improving teaching practices, in a research paper, poster presentation, and in an online forum.
Graduates of CLASS at CSU, Chico will enter their classrooms bolstered with the ongoing support of program resources and mentorship. They will also utilize the open portal among other CLASS graduates and a collaborative teaching environment. Poised with these mentors, professors, and peer relationships, CLASS-educated teachers will enter the community prepared to make a difference in the lives of their students and, ultimately, in our society.
CLASS Emboldens Graduate Educators at Chico State
CLASS at CSU, Chico