More than 20 elementary classroom teachers who are recent graduates of Baylor School of Education (SOE) will be on campus June 21 – 22 for the inaugural Baylor Beginning Teacher Institute (BBTI).
The free professional development opportunity is offered as a benefit for Baylor graduates who are current elementary teachers and who earned degrees in general education, elementary education, special education, or gifted-and-talented programs in 2016, 2017, or 2018. Only limited spots were available for the institute’s first year, and the program will expand to secondary graduates for 2020.
By supporting early-career teachers, Baylor SOE hopes to improve retention in the teaching profession, said Dr. Barbara Purdum-Cassidy, clinical professor and coordinator of the School of Education’s elementary education program, the School’s largest major.
“We really want to maintain relationships with our teacher-education graduates and tangibly extend our commitment to the Baylor mission,” Cassidy said. “As faculty members, we actively mentor students individually during their student teaching experiences, so we want to re-establish that mentor-mentee relationship through this on-campus experience.”
SOE doctoral student Tracy Harper suggested the idea of a professional development seminar and reunion for recent graduates, because she had attended something similar at her undergraduate alma mater, Abilene Christian University. Harper, who is a master’s graduate of Concordia University in Austin and is co-directing the Institute with Cassidy, said that Baylor will also conduct formal research, exploring ways to improve the undergraduate program and also researching effective ways to build resilience and increase retention of early-career teachers. She believes that the early-career teachers will benefit by returning to the atmosphere of their alma mater.
“Because of their shared undergraduate experience, we hope they feel less intimidated and are more willing to ask questions and share their own experiences in the classroom than they might in a traditional professional development experience,” Harper said. “Baylor is a safe space for them.”
Baylor is providing the program free of charge, and Cassidy said that financial support for the program was offered without hesitation from the Department of Curriculum & Instruction and from the SOE Dean’s Office.
Cassidy said that the organizers see the Institute as more of a launching point for connections than just an annual event. She hopes that graduates will return for multiple years, and organizers also plan to establish a system of e-mentoring and a way for graduates who attend the Institute together to keep in touch and develop a support system.
“We want them to continue sharing their own stories, celebrating together what has gone well for them, and asking questions about things they struggle with,” she said.
The BBTI will start with lunch in Penland on Friday, June 21, followed by an “EdCamp” session. Attendees suggested topics for discussion during the registration for BBTI, and the EdCamp session will cover those, with time for adding in new ones. Graduates will also enjoy an afternoon Dr Pepper Hour.
On Saturday attendees will share breakfast with faculty members and then continue with presentations by Baylor faculty. Topics include social issues, literacy pedagogy, STEM implementation, creativity in the classroom, positive classroom culture, and phonics and the new ELAR TEKS.
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ABOUT BAYLOR SCHOOL OF EDUCATION
For more than 100 years Baylor educators have carried the mission and practices of the School of Education to classrooms and beyond as teachers, superintendents, psychologists, health education professionals, academics/scholars and more. With more than 50 full-time faculty members, the school’s growing research portfolio complements its long-standing commitment to excellence in teaching and student mentoring. Baylor’s undergraduate program in teacher education has earned national distinction for innovative partnerships with local schools that provide future teachers deep clinical preparation, while graduate programs culminating in both the Ed.D. and Ph.D. prepare outstanding leaders, teachers and clinicians through an intentional blend of theory and practice.
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.