SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher formally launched a new Center of Innovation in Education at SUNY Cortland Friday, creating a regional hub for the advancement and improvement of teacher education.
The new center will offer unprecedented opportunities for the development of current and future teachers and showcase SUNY Cortland’s position at the cutting edge of teacher education.
“The Center for Innovation in Education at SUNY Cortland will be a clinically-rich environment where our students – New York’s future teachers and school leaders – have access to the latest technologies and most successful educator preparation practices,” Zimpher said. “The Center will be a valuable resource site not only for Cortland students and faculty, but for teachers, master teachers and school district leaders throughout Central New York and state-wide.
“With this facility, SUNY reaches an important milestone in our efforts to systematically transform and advance the way public higher education prepares future educators to help prepare the state’s pre-k through 12 students for college and career.”
Zimpher will join SUNY Cortland President Erik J. Bitterbaum and School of Education Dean Andrea Lachance in leading a panel discussion on the new innovation center from 1:30 pm to 2:30 p.m. in Brockway Hall Jacobus Lounge on campus.
“SUNY Cortland has been a leader in teacher education for nearly a century and a half,” Bitterbaum said. “This innovation center will allow us to broaden our role in creating, assessing and sharing the teaching methods and strategies needed to effectively prepare children for success in the 21st century.”
The Center for Innovation in Education will be a central resource site for teacher education candidates, education faculty and teachers of all subjects in all grade levels. It will offer research, workshops and enrichment opportunities focused on five core areas that build on work already being done by SUNY Cortland and its partners in the region.
Ultimately, SUNY Cortland – already a major site for the state’s Master Teacher Program – will become a regional hub for professional development and a center for discussion and research related to cutting-edge teaching strategies for pre-school children through college and beyond.
“While we call this a “new” center, it really is building on the work we have done for many years but bringing it to a new level,” Lachance said. “We are fortunate to have faculty who are very active in local schools and to have regional school and district partners who are committed to helping us prepare the best teachers possible.”
The Center’s five areas of focus will be:
Evaluation of instructional methods and outcomes
Over the past year, small groups of SUNY Cortland faculty and local teachers began using structured protocols to analyze and evaluate teacher candidate performance on the recently upgraded New York State Teacher Certification Exams. The Innovation Center would expand SUNY Cortland’s efforts to use this framework to examine and improve the effectiveness of college instruction in preparing future teachers for the certification exams. Initial center funding would allow collaboration with New York State United Teachers’ Education and Learning Trust to expand and develop workshops in this area.
The College will partner with Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES and regional school superintendents to integrate project-based learning (PBL) into teacher preparation programs. PBL is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended time on a single question or problem. This strategy is being used successfully to meet new Common Core standards in schools and could be used to improve the development of teacher candidates.
Clinically rich teacher preparation
There is no substitute for hands-on, classroom learning, and the center would work to encourage partnerships that provide innovative clinical experiences for prospective teachers. A clinically rich pilot program last year gave 10 SUNY Cortland students year-long residencies assisting in math and science classes at a high-needs school in Binghamton. That program will be continued through the center as a model for future clinically rich teacher education initiatives.
Teacher preparation strategies
SUNY Cortland, home to the largest public teacher preparation program in New York State, will partner with TeachingWorks, a national group aimed at raising standards for beginning teachers, to evaluate whether the education strategies advocated by the group can better prepare teachers for work in New York schools.
Effective communication in science education
The Center will develop a series of workshops focusing on communicating science information to general audiences, including secondary school students. The effort will involve SUNY Cortland’s Master Teacher Program, science faculty and teacher candidates.
Faculty from regional elementary and secondary schools, BOCES, local community colleges and SUNY Cortland participated in Friday’s launch.