Recruit and Retain Successful Teachers
“I love TeacherReady with my heart and my soul. I went through a traditional pathway. And I found I still was not prepared for the classroom in so many ways. But with TeacherReady, candidates learn the nitty gritty so they’re ready to be successful on day one. We’ve had students in every state and over 100 countries, and it is so fulfilling to help prepare teachers for the classroom. I can’t think of a better way to have an impact on this world than by filling classrooms everywhere with great teachers who teach, inspire, and best empower our K-12 students to be leaders of tomorrow.”
– Dr. Sarah Miller, Accelerate Your Performance Podcast Episode 291
Dr. Janet Pilcher, TeacherReady founder and host of the Accelerate Your Performance podcast, recently invited Dr. Sarah Miller, Senior Director of TeacherReady, as a guest on the podcast to discuss recruiting and retaining successful teachers. In this episode, Dr. Miller explains how TeacherReady uses a continuous improvement process to update and advance the alternative certification program and how the TeacherReady program can be a tool for districts to recruit and retain teachers.
In the episode, Dr. Pilcher shares that teaching is one of the most important professions in our country. “The future of our country depends on our young people of today, and our young people depend on our teachers,” says Dr. Pilcher. “That’s why two decades ago, as the dean of a college at the University of West Florida, I gathered a group of high-performing teachers together for a day and I asked them to identify the teaching competencies that were necessary for teachers to be successful in their first year to three years of teaching. We called the outcome of that conversation and the competencies, the essential teaching practices (ETP). That’s what drove us to develop a new program to recruit teachers into our profession and retain teachers who are currently teaching or working in schools but are not yet certified. Two decades later, the TeacherReady program is an even greater resource for future teachers and school districts across the country. I’m excited today to bring back the director of our TeacherReady program, Dr. Sarah Miller. She’ll talk about the positive results we’ve seen over the years in recruiting and retaining successful teachers, and how our program is supporting the important grow your own efforts in districts.”
Janet Pilcher 00:07
Hello, everyone. Welcome to today’s Accelerate Your Performance podcast. I’m your host, Janet Pilcher. Thanks for having the desire to be your best at work, and help your organization achieve success. This podcast is all about actions we can take to improve workplace culture and achieve results. And they’re all aligned to our Nine Principles Framework.
Teaching is one of the most important professions in our country. The future of our country depends on our young people of today, and our young people depend on our teachers. That’s why two decades ago, as the dean of a college at the University of West Florida, I gathered a group of high-performing teachers together for a day and I asked them to identify the teaching competencies that were necessary for teachers to be successful. And their first year to three years of teaching. We called the outcome of that conversation and the competencies, the essential teaching practices ETP. That’s what drove us to develop a new program to recruit teachers into our profession and retain teachers who are currently teaching or working in schools but are not yet certified.
Two decades later, the TeacherReady program is an even greater resource for future teachers and school districts across the country. I’m excited today to bring back the director of our TeacherReady program, Dr. Sarah Miller. She’ll talk about the positive results we’ve seen over the years in recruiting and retaining successful teachers, and how our program is supporting the important grow your own efforts in districts. Next week, I’ll talk more about retaining our best teachers in the classroom. So appreciate Sarah joining us today. You’ll hear a little bit about her. She’s been part of our podcast episodes before and it’s with great pleasure to bring her back to continue to talk about the relevance of getting great teachers in our classroom. It’s with great pleasure that I welcome back to our show today, Dr. Sarah Miller, she’s been on our show before, she’s one of our own, works with us as our team member at Studer Education and I’ve had an opportunity to work with Sarah for a long time. And it’s with great pleasure, Sarah, that welcomed me back to our show. Welcome.
Sarah Miller 02:33
Thanks so much. Glad to be here.
Janet Pilcher 02:35
So let’s start today with if you would tell us a little bit about yourself and your background, just to remind us a little bit about who you are.
Sarah Miller 02:44
You know, I grew up knowing that I wanted to be a teacher, I played school with my dolls and all my friends, it was no surprise to everyone who knew me that I was going to go into education. I spent 17 years in K-12 as a special ed teacher and administrator. And in the last few years of my teaching career, I started becoming an instructor for TeacherReady, and I fell in love with TeacherReady. So I came on board in 2010 and have loved every minute of it.
Janet Pilcher 03:13
Yeah and you know, you’ve been with us from, from, you know, for so long, Sarah. And, you know, as I talked about in my introduction, and I’ll talk a little bit more about it next week with kind of my experience and in why TeacherReady and how now today still, it’s even more important for retention. But I just appreciate the passion that you have and the dedication that you have to this program, because it’s extremely important for us to get great teachers in our classrooms, more important than ever. So if you would remind us, we talked about TeacherReady on the show before but if you would, at a high level, just remind our viewers a little bit about the TeacherReady program. And we will dig deeper into it as we go along today.
Sarah Miller 03:53
So TeacherReady is an accelerated affordable route for teacher certification. Anyone who has a bachelor’s degree can take our program and be certified in around a year. You know, I love that candidates can start and apply with us every day of the year. They don’t have to wait for a cohort or for a group to begin, or a semester. So that’s great. The coursework is all online, and it’s very flexible. This way candidates who have a busy family schedule/work schedule can still take the program. It’s really great for folks who are on a temporary teaching certificate or paraeducators or long-term subs. It’s also a way for candidates who are second-career folks coming into education to get certified without having to quit their current job while they’re taking the program. And when the candidates are finished, it leads to their Florida professional teaching certificate and that can be transferred to most other states. So it’s a great option for helping folks get certified.
Janet Pilcher 04:54
Yeah, and you know, it’s as we’ve talked about when we you know, when I started Sarah years ago, a couple of decades ago with the development of the program as a dean, and one of the things I always wanted was to make sure students got support. And that’s why I love that you’re the leader of the program because you ensure that our students get support. And we built a program where they get supported by instructors, advisors, and mentor teachers. So it’s not just going out, getting your coursework and being done and checking off and walking in the classroom and good luck, right? You know, I mean, they have support along the way. So will you tell our listeners a little bit about the type of support our students or candidates get as they’re taking the program?
Sarah Miller 05:37
We start right off the bat by offering support right in the admissions process. Our admission team supports our candidates in admissions and enrollment. And we have a success coach that starts and bridges that gap for students all the way from their application process to the end when they’re finished. They guide candidates provide resources and assistance, and every candidate has an advisor who stays with them throughout the time they’re in the program. Instructors provide support by offering written feedback on all assignments, and answering any questions that they have, as they’re working through content, they’re always readily available. And then through fieldwork, a mentor teacher supports the candidates, as they learn how to put their book learning into action in the classroom. So as you can see, we do have numerous supports built into the program. We want to make sure all of our candidates are successful.
Janet Pilcher 06:31
Yeah, and I know as you lead a great team, and when we bring people on to our TeacherReady team, it’s really important that our team has at the core of what they live for each and every day to support those students. And that is why we built a team to do that. And I know you’re proud of them.
Sarah Miller 06:50
Yes, I am, I will tell you, very proud of the team. And we want to make sure that every candidate gets the assistance they need, and that they’re successful. And that they make a great classroom teacher when they’re all finished.
Janet Pilcher 07:02
That’s it. That’s it and in, you know, and in order to do that we have really focused, part of the work that we do at Studer Education is building the Nine Principles Framework, hardwire continuous improvement for our process, really look at how we can always get better. And, you know, we’ve done that for years and teach already. And we continue to look at how we can get better. That’s just part of the process. So can you talk a little bit about our continuous improvement process, how we are looking to listen to students’ feedback, update our program, and advance our program, can you talk a little bit about that?
Sarah Miller 07:39
Continuous improvement does play a key role. And I think that’s the reason TeacherReady is so successful. We’re always trying to make the program better. We frequently survey our candidates during and even after they’re completed with our program to see how well they think we did preparing them for the classroom. We survey our employers so they can share with us how well our candidates are doing once they’re finished. And even after they’ve been teaching for a while. We closely monitor our progression and our completion. We’re always adding additional support anytime we see something that’s needed. Those are just a few examples. We have numerous examples of how we use continuous improvement every day.
Janet Pilcher 08:21
Yes, we do. And with the new book, my new book, Hardwiring Excellence in Education, coming out, there are a couple of examples in there that show very specifically how we use that data. Just because you all have done that so well over the years. So you know, part of that is looking at the results. And I know we have had some good results. Quality has always been key for us as we’ve helped people who want to teach and need that alternative pathway to achieve that goal. We also have prided ourselves on good outcomes and results. Can you share a little bit about the type of results that we get from the hard continuous improvement work that we do?
Sarah Miller 09:05
We have a 92% retention rate in our program, which is extremely high compared to other programs. Absolutely amazing. 80% of our completers stay in the classroom longer than three years, which is crucial today, right for teachers are coming in and out of the classroom like a revolving door. So the fact that our completers are prepared and stay in the classroom is very significant. And here’s the one I’m most proud of. 96% of our employers tell us that our students have an immediate impact on student learning the very first year they’re in the classroom. I mean, wow! And you know, that stems from continuous improvement. And it’s because our graduates are so prepared for the classroom.
Janet Pilcher 09:50
Yeah. And that is front and center for all of us. And even though we’ve been in this business for a couple of decades, we’ve not let that fall apart, right? I mean, that’s just what we focus on each and every day. I’m so proud of the program and so proud of the team who has committed to really providing support to students. You know, one of the things then that we, you mentioned a few minutes ago really helping districts with recruitment, a little bit retention, for sure. And so I know you have wonderful relationships across the country, with many states and districts. And we’ve been really focusing on working you have been focusing on working with districts having the conversations about ways districts can provide a grow-your-own type of program or really support students going through TeacherReady. And I know last week, a couple of weeks ago, you were in Decatur, Illinois, and you have a partnership with them now. We have a partnership with them. So I’d like you to talk a little bit about that because this is something that’s really important to us.
Sarah Miller 11:00
So we have a new Grow Your Own Program partnership with Decatur Public Schools, their school board has allocated to pay for 25 TeacherReady candidates in their district, who are long-term subs. So Decatur is really preparing these folks so they can be fully certified to help fill their vacant positions. And when I was there, I will tell you, I loved how superintendent Dr. Rochelle Clark, thanked the candidates, thanked them for their service to the district and all their hard work. Jason Fox, the human resource director, and Ashley Grainer, the executive director of innovative programs helped to set up this fabulous event where it really celebrated the recipients who are receiving these funds in order to get certified. I tell you that was complete with goodie bags and t-shirts. So lots and lots of fun and a great celebration for all and we’re very excited about our new partnership with Decatur Public Schools.
Janet Pilcher 11:55
So excited about it. And as we get into that partnership, Sarah, make sure we do connect with the superintendent there. I’d love to get her on the show and talk about what she’s learning and the successes that they’re having with TeacherReady in her district. So love the fact that we have that partnership with them. And I know you’re really excited about that, but we have others as well. Right? We really are beginning to build additional partnerships with districts and EPA has historically had partnerships with districts. But that’s just become more of a focus for us because districts are in high need. And we’re trying to meet that need. So can you talk about a few other partnerships we have as well?
Sarah Miller 12:36
Yes, so we not only have partnerships with school districts across the country, charter schools, private schools, and special education consortiums. We’re even working to certify teachers with organizations like Man Up and Code Crew. And I think it’s great. We even work with a group that places teachers in small villages in Alaska.
Janet Pilcher 12:58
Gosh, that’s fun, you know, and that’s the fun of it. And, you know, before we go, I’d be remiss and we would be remiss today if we just didn’t pay honor to our University of West Florida colleagues who were in partnership with the program I started when I was dean at the University and, you know, got a chance as I moved to Studer Education to continue that partnership/ And we offer the program but highly connected to a university. So I know you’ve had great working relationships with our university. And that’s an important part of our program as well.
Sarah Miller 13:36
Yes, it is, we really value our partnership with the university and work with them very closely to deliver this program. So looking forward to many more years of our great partnership.
Janet Pilcher 13:47
Yes, me too Sarah.
So as we close out today, I just want to wrap it back around to you. You’ve been dedicated to TeacherReady. Thank you for that for many, many years. It will always be part of the core of my heart, of the heartbeat for me in terms of my profession, based on the years of work that we’ve done there and I just know it is for you too. So why is this program important to you and what can we contribute to the education profession because of the work that we’ve done over the years with TeacherReady?
Sarah Miller 14:21
You know, I couldn’t agree more Janet. I love TeacherReady with my heart and my soul. I went through a traditional pathway. And I found I still was not prepared for the classroom in so many ways. But with TeacherReady candidates learn the nitty gritty, and they’re ready to be successful on day one. We’ve had students in every state and over 100 countries, and it is so fulfilling to help prepare teachers for the classroom. I can’t think of a better way to have an impact on this world than by filling classrooms everywhere with great teachers who teach, inspire, and best empower our K-12 students to be leaders of tomorrow.
Janet Pilcher 15:01
Yeah. And so so so important that our teachers are sometimes undervalued in what they do. And I hope I know you and I, hopefully with this, this podcast can reach out to them and say you are important, your teaching is one of the most important professions because of what you said. It helps us prepare our students and young people for a great future and gives them the foundation that they need. And I know I’ve watched teachers all through the years, and they are so so dedicated to young people and their families. You know, Sarah, so I just appreciate you being with us today. And just talking through the TeacherReady program and the work that we do. And I think at the end of the day, we are all about getting better and improving and serving. And what I love about this program, and what you do as a leader is you’re never satisfied, right? You’re never satisfied. You’re always trying to do the things that get us better and better and better. And we’re pretty good with those results that we see right there. So I’m just going to note for our listeners if there’s anyone that’s interested in talking with you or connecting with you, I’m sure you wouldn’t mind them connecting with you via email or any other way. But if you would, let’s just talk about just for a few minutes here, what’s the best way that somebody could connect with you personally because I know that enjoy that conversation?
Sarah Miller 16:34
Yes, I’m happy to connect with anyone who would like some additional information or just talk through options for might be helpful for your area. My email address is email@example.com. And you can also find us through our website, www.teacherready.org.
Janet Pilcher 16:55
Perfect. And we’ll put that on the website as well so that they can reach out to you. And I always tell people, if you don’t remember anything, just Google my name and you’ll find a way to reach me it’s pretty easy through Studer Education. And we’re all over the website in that way. So thank you. Thank you so much. Thanks for being with us. And I look forward to having you back soon.
Sarah Miller 17:16
Thanks so much, Janet.
Janet Pilcher 17:19
As Dr. Miller mentioned, if you want more information about the TeacherReady Program, visit our website, www.teacherready.org. We focused on best-in-class customer service. So please connect with us. We’ll be glad to engage in a conversation and provide any support that we can. And as always a thank you for tuning in to this episode of Accelerate Your Performance. Feel free to share this episode with a friend or colleague who you think will enjoy today’s topic. I look forward to connecting with you next time as we continue to focus on the Nine Principles Framework so that we can be our best at work. Have a great week.