Work in progress

The Next Education Workforce initiative is bringing people and ideas together to increase the capabilities of individual educators and the performance of education systems.

Teams and teacher preparation

Graphic comparing the previous and new configurations for educators in classrooms

Our previous model of professional experiences for teacher candidates placed each ASU student in a school with a mentor. This 1:1 student-mentor model won national praise. But it was built for the prevalent one teacher, one classroom model that doesn’t reliably deliver personalized learning, and it didn’t expose our students to a broad variety of professionals and how they work.

MLFTC is partnering with school districts to deploy ASU education students as interns and residents in teams. As of fall 2019, we are configuring teams that include more than 300 ASU students in 11 school districts.  

Teams of 3-4 residents and/or interns work across classrooms, work together, and work under the supervision of certified lead teachers. ASU faculty members serve as site leads to provide coaching, feedback and support to the teams

This model encourages more agency and efficacy for teacher candidates and lead teachers. It is designed to deliver the rewards and satisfactions of adult collaboration and multiple perspectives. It provides professional learning experiences in which teacher candidates are exposed to more and solely responsible for less. And it allows them to adopt more instructional strategies and deliver more personalized attention to more learners.


Teams of in-service teachers

Image of a teacher and students

Patty Christie, principal at Rhodes Junior High School in Mesa, Arizona, has been working on deploying her school’s teachers in teams for some time. Now our interns and residents are joining those teams.

Content area teachers, specialists and paraprofessionals are collectively responsible for a group of 180–200 seventh and eighth graders. The team is led by an experienced lead teacher guiding the team’s work.

The team is redesigning bell schedules, incorporating more student-driven scheduling and leveraging Summit Learning to deliver more personalized learning.

A prototype school

Teacher and student at SPARK School

The makerspace at the SPARK School at Kyrene de las Manitas has 3D printers and other resources.

Fall 2019 saw the opening of the SPARK School within Kyrene de las Manitas, nearly two years after Kyrene district leadership and a team of faculty and staff at MLFTC set themselves the task of designing and launching a “school of the future.”

Having secured school board approval and having earned the interest of a number of families, the school opened as a program of choice within Kyrene de las Manitas.

SPARK breaks out of the constraints imposed by the standard one teacher, one classroom model by combining innovations in learning environments, teaching methods and staffing.

Graphic of a floor plan of the SPARK classroom

When students enter SPARK, they come into a dynamic learning space that can be configured for collaborative project-based learning activities.

There, they are welcomed by a team that includes teacher-leadership roles, certified teachers, full-time MLFTC residents and a part-time MLFTC intern. The instructors work in cross-disciplinary configurations across the two grade levels.



As a top-tier college of education that ranks high in research expenditures and the quality of scholarly production, we are bringing our research capabilities to bear on the work of the Next Education Workforce initiative. We are conducting research and evaluation that sheds light on how our work affects outcomes and experiences for both learners and educators. We’ll look at both the academic and socioemotional life of students. We’ll investigate how our models affect the efficacy, job-satisfaction, retention and development of educators.


Resources for educators, teams and leaders

We’re creating a set of pedagogical and professional resources for superintendents, school leadership and educators.

Work in progress includes materials that will provide technical assistance to schools as they assess readiness conditions, staffing structures and budgets. The Next Education Workforce initiative is also developing demonstration materials such as videos and learning space configurations that support teams of educators providing personalized learning. These include a series of professional learning modules intended to support individuals working in new educator roles, beginning with the pivotal role of lead teacher.

We are doing all of this work in deep collaboration with leaders and educators in schools and districts that are partnering with us.


Global engagement 

The conversation about the education workforce is global. MLFTC is taking a leadership role in the international conversation.

MLFTC is collaborating with the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity — the Education Commission — a global initiative encouraging greater progress on the United Nations sustainability goals (SDG4). Dean Carole Basile serves on the high-level steering committee of the Education Commission’s Education Workforce Initiative, and MLFTC scholars Iveta Silova, Yeukai Mlambo and Ann Nielsen contributed to Transforming the Education Workforce, the commission’s September 2019 report.