The plan noted the dramatic declines in enrollment in teacher preparation programs in all IU education schools over the last decade, reflecting national trends as well as changes in P–12 education policy specific to Indiana. The decline in enrollment is especially concerning for the regional campus schools, which are smaller and more exclusively focused on teacher preparation, and it directly contributes to teacher shortages in many parts of Indiana. The decline in teacher preparation enrollments also needs to be addressed at a strategic level and in collaboration with the state.
In response to Indiana’s teacher shortage, and the objectives of increasing enrollments in the schools of education and strengthening partnerships with Indiana school corporations, several of the Indiana University Schools of Education have embarked on Grow Your Own (GYO) teacher initiatives. GYO initiatives create a pipeline of highly qualified teachers, increase community connections, and address regionally relevant instructional capacity issues. Grow Your Own programs achieve these objectives by recruiting future teachers while students are still in the high school setting and inducting and engaging them in transition activities that culminate in a teaching position in the student’s home district. Programs combine dual credit college courses, career exploration and discovery, mentoring, extracurricular activities, observations and experiential learning in P–12 classrooms, Education coursework, and graduation and career planning. The target populations include high school students, unlicensed paraprofessionals, and emergency license instructors—individuals with connections to the community and, in some cases, experience working in district schools. IU programs include: IU East’s Transition to Teaching: Emergency Licensure program; IU Kokomo’s Tomorrow’s Teachers program; IUPUI’s District-Based Alternative Certification program; IU South Bend’s Special Education Mild/Moderate Licensure Partnership; and IU Southeast’s Growing Tomorrow’s STEM Teachers program.
For example, at IU Kokomo, in spring 2018 a collaborative Grow Your Own program was co-constructed and developed with four district partners (Caston School Corporation, Kokomo School Corporation, Logansport Community Schools, and Western School Corporation). The development of the program, Tomorrow’s Teachers: Growing Our Own, was funded through an IU Kokomo Applied and Community Research Center (ACRC) grant. The program engages high-achieving high school students interested in the field of Education in Education courses taught by an IU Kokomo Education faculty, P–8 classroom experiences, and on-campus events and activities. The program began in fall 2018, with 22 high school students (juniors and seniors). Ten of those students will be full-time freshmen in Education in fall 2019. A new cohort of high school students began the Tomorrow’s Teachers program in fall 2019. This program has provided an opportunity for partner districts to address local shortages and teacher demographic priorities in intentional and strategic ways. For example, one of the districts has a high need for bilingual teachers and, therefore, is recruiting underrepresented individuals for the program.
At IU Bloomington, beginning in summer of 2020, Transition to Teaching (T2T) will shift to a hybrid delivery model that will enable many candidates from around the state (and beyond) to maintain their current geography/employment while making periodic visits to campus. This will leverage IU’s statewide network of student teaching placements to enable these candidates to complete their practica within reasonable driving distance of their home locations. Beyond simply increasing numbers, this initiative will provide greater equity of access to the teaching force and reduce the economic and logistical barriers many aspiring teachers now face (e.g., talented educators currently serving in support roles such as classroom aids).
At IUPUI, faculty within the undergraduate teacher preparation programs (Elementary and Secondary Education, Special Education, and English as New Language) established partnerships with all schools in urban school districts within the Indianapolis metropolitan area. These partnership activities include service learning in pre-program courses, urban school-based field experiences and student teaching practica, pre-service teacher-facilitated afterschool programming, mentor teacher professional development, intentional recruitment and hiring plans for exemplary student teachers, and collaborative research projects with schools. Urban Education Studies provides an advanced degree to those students who are seeking graduate degrees that will prepare them to serve in urban communities. Over the last five years, enrollment has increased and students are moving in multiple directions following degree attainment.