Context matters

Preparing teachers to engage communities where they work

 Project title 
iTeachAZ Community Embeddedness

 Award amount 

 Grant effective dates 
January 1, 2015May 31, 2018

 Principal investigator(s) 
Mari Koerner

 Originating sponsor 
W.K. Kellogg Foundation

The challenge

How do we embed student teachers into communities surrounding the schools where they teach, so they understand and embrace teaching and learning in diverse cultural contexts?

The approach

The iTeachAZ Community Embeddedness Project aims to increase the number of effective early childhood professionals in Arizona and expand the senior-year residency to embrace families and communities to improve the quality of teacher preparation. (Note: Beginning with the 2019–20 school year, iTeachAZ was superseded by MLFTC Professional Pathways.)

The project spans three academic years and will involve 150 senior-year teacher candidates in early childhood settings and classrooms in high-need communities. While participating in the project, teacher candidates in Phoenix and Scottsdale elementary schools will be prepared to support future school and classroom transitions for an ethnically and culturally diverse student body. They will learn to effectively engage parents from diverse cultural backgrounds in their children’s education and increase academic and social outcomes of diverse groups of students. The project helps teacher candidates by providing opportunities to engage with community members and families through a series of family- and community-based activities.

During the first year of the project (the 2015-2016 academic year), senior-year teacher candidates visited community agencies that support families and community members with crisis services, nutrition, and sustainable living practices. Professionals trained teacher candidates on home visits, and those teacher candidates followed a prescribed protocol when conducting the visits. They assisted with project evaluation by participating in surveys and providing oral feedback on community experiences and activities.