SFUSD’s Teacher Credential Program Incorporates Digital Instruction to Help New Educators Teach from a Distance
San Francisco (July 21, 2020) - At a time when the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) is offering support for educators to teach students from a distance during the COVID-19 pandemic, the district is also preparing future educators enrolled in SFUSD’s Pathway to Teaching program on how to teach virtually.
The 74 participants in this year’s cohort of Pathway to Teaching, a credentialing program run by SFUSD that allows teacher candidates to earn their teaching credential while getting paid to work as a teacher, are finishing their seven weeks of coursework and applied practice and are preparing to lead classroom instruction virtually when the 2020-21 school year begins in August.
SFUSD Pathway to Teaching is a teacher credentialing program approved through the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Now in its fourth year, the program begins with a seven-week intensive summer teacher preparation program. Then, throughout the school year, the teachers complete courses and work with a Pathway coach for 1-2 hours a week. The coach helps them plan lessons, observes their classroom instruction, either in person or online, and provides them with real-time feedback to quickly develop their teaching. By the end of the school year, teachers can earn a preliminary credential in Multiple Subjects, Bilingual Spanish, or Special Education.
Pathway to Teaching incorporates an anti-racist teaching lens and helps to remove barriers for those who want to become a teacher: over 69% of the cohort are people of color, and over 90% are local to the Bay Area.
“As an elementary school teacher myself, I know that being an educator is one of the most rewarding careers a person can have. SFUSD’s educator preparation program is helping SFUSD prepare educators who we hope will stay in the district and grow as professionals throughout their careers,” Board of Education President Mark Sanchez said.
In the summer program, the courses and daily lab focused on particular aspects of teaching, such as creating safe and supportive classrooms, effective lesson planning, creating a robust literacy classroom, and universal design for learning. In past years, the courses and labs were taught at a school with summer programming so the teacher candidates would have an opportunity to practice their teaching in a classroom with students.
For the first time the summer classes and labs were all held virtually via Zoom. In the virtual environment, Pathway is utilizing its learning lab structure, in which small groups of Pathway teacher candidates are grouped with expert, veteran SFUSD teachers to practice teaching in a virtual classroom and simulate being teachers and students. This opportunity allows the teacher candidates to gain valuable practice that translates to both in-person teaching and the distance learning environment. It’s also a teacher leadership opportunity for the expert teachers who staff the program.
Participants receive instruction on how to teach virtually. Pathway teacher candidates are learning how to teach with programs such as Zoom, Google Classroom, Jamboard, and Padlet. The teachers are gaining practice in how to use these tools so they can be as prepared as possible for distance learning, hybrid instruction, or face-to-face teaching.
”Just as we aim to prepare our graduates for an ever changing world, we must prepare our teachers for the same. With Pathway to Teaching our diverse educator candidates are developing skills to teach remotely and in-person,” Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews said.