Sharon Feiman-Nemser named to national blue ribbon panel on teacher preparation

She’ll help restructure the way that teachers develop before, and after, they enter the classroom

Sharon Feiman-Nemser

Sharon Feiman-Nemser, Mandel Professor of Jewish Education at Brandeis, and director of the Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education, has been named to a new blue ribbon panel of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). The NCATE Blue Ribbon Panel on Clinical Preparation, Partnerships and Improved Student Learning will create recommendations for restructuring the preparation of teachers to reflect teaching as a practice-based profession akin to medicine, nursing, or clinical psychology.
The establishment of such an expert panel signals the beginning of a sea change in the preparation of the nation’s teachers. Practice-based professions not only require a solid academic base, but strong clinical components, a supported induction experience, and ongoing opportunities for learning. This redesign is intended to bring educator preparation into better alignment with the urgent needs of P-12 schools.
Feiman-Nemser brings to this appointment extensive experience in the study and practice of teacher education, including designing and directing programs with strong clinical components at the University of Chicago, Michigan State and now at Brandeis, where she teaches in the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Program. The university’s MAT Program features a yearlong internship closely coordinated with professional coursework. Feiman-Nemser believes these firsthand experiences are critical to preparing quality teachers.
“The opportunity to learn to teach over time in the company of a thoughtful, experienced mentor teacher who models good teaching lays a strong foundation for independent teaching,” she said. “I look forward to working on new national standards that will integrate extended clinical experience into all teacher preparation programs.”
Feiman-Nemser was instrumental in bringing this model of teacher education to Jewish education. In 2002, she helped to found the DeLeT program at the Mandel Center, establishing the only program preparing Jewish day school teachers that features a yearlong, mentored internship. Strong partnerships with local day schools make this clinical learning opportunity possible.
Feiman-Nemser also brings expertise in mentoring and new teacher induction to her work on the blue ribbon panel. In addition to her research on mentoring in a variety of contexts in the U.S and abroad, she is currently involved with the Mandel Center’s Induction Partnership which helps Jewish day schools in Boston and around the country create strong, comprehensive induction programs for new teachers. While studying the factors that enable and constrain this work, the project is also developing an online Induction Toolkit for use by school leaders and mentor teachers.
According to Feiman-Nemser, “When schools create the conditions that enable new teachers to succeed– regular opportunities to observe and consult with colleagues, full curriculum, a transparent assessment process– they makes schools good places for all teachers and their students to succeed.”
As part of the NCATE panel, she will help frame a set of principles for the clinical preparation of teachers that focus on building the expertise necessary for effective teaching practice. This includes developing teacher candidates’ ability to assess and meet the learning needs of diverse students and to base decisions about what and how to teach on content standards and evidence of students learning.
The blue ribbon panel is chaired by Nancy Zimpher, chancellor of the State University of New York system, and Dwight Jones, Colorado’s commissioner of education. Other panel members include experts in education research, policy, teaching and learning, and leaders in higher education and P-12 schools at the state and local level.
For more information about the work of the Mandel Center, visit the Mandel Center's Web site.
For more information about NCATE’s work, visit the NCATE Web site.

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