This month, we sat down with Stephanie Kinoshita, our Associate Director of Teacher Residency and founding elementary school teacher at our own KIPP Raíces Academy in 2008. Stephanie shared with us what she feels are unique attributes of both the Teacher Residency Program and professional development here at KIPP SoCal.
What is unique about professional development at KIPP SoCal?
Professional development at KIPP SoCal is truly focused on personal professional development, and to address the personal nuances of all of our teachers, there are several ways that they are developed. Teachers are developed through coaching, there are people in their classrooms consistently giving them feedback, working with them to evaluate student work and student data to help them make the best decisions around what might be the ideal next step in their growth. There are also a lot of opportunities for group learning, in grade level teams or whole-school settings. And of course, there's a focus on developing as a contemporary professional, learning about the most up to date research and strategies for teaching students.
Why is unique about teaching at KIPP SoCal?
At KIPP SoCal, it's a community approach to education, you have the opportunity to work with other amazing educators who are all collaborating for the same goal, which is student learning and development.
It’s truly a unique setting in which everyone pulls together to make progress for students. We know that we’re not going to be able to impact students and equity in education if we’re trying to do it in a silo, by ourselves, in one classroom, we have to be working together with all of the educators around us in order to have the desired impact. We lean on each other, learn from one another and collectively get stronger.
What should we know about the Teacher Residency Program?
At KIPP SoCal, we have a Teacher Residency in partnership with Alder Graduate School of Education. This program gives teachers an opportunity to apprentice with an excellent teacher within the KIPP SoCal network for one year. They’re embedded in the classroom, 4 days a week, the have the opportunity to work alongside and co-teach with an amazing teacher who has strong outcomes for their students. They are able to experience what are the strategies, systems and structures that those teachers have in place that would lead to those results. And then they can then take that learning into their first year of teaching.
What is particularly meaningful is that you have one person that is supportive throughout your first year, as well as very consistent coaching. In some programs, you might see your coach once a month or a few times a semester, in our residency, our residents receive feedback at least once a week, often even once a day, depending upon how they’re working with their individual teacher.
And finally, our cohort model ensures that each of our teachers can support each other throughout. This year we have 16 residents and they all support each other through this difficult journey of becoming a teacher, and through the Teacher Residency program, they have this beautiful opportunity to really be set up for success within the KIPP SoCal network in their first year of teaching.
What is the benefit of working with the Alder Graduate School of Education?
The Alder Graduate School of Education has been doing this work with Teacher Residencies for 10 years. They have seen much success in making sure that both teachers are able to find a job within the organization that they’re starting their residency within as well as making sure that their teachers are very well prepared.
There’s focus around learning best practices for co-teaching, best practices for assessment, analysis, but importantly a shared focus on equity. There’s a strong drive to make sure that we are diversifying the teaching pool, making sure that all students can learn from people who have similar backgrounds to them, a pillar within the KIPP SoCal educational platform.