In education at the moment, we often talk about apprenticeship in the context of teacher preparation, such as the Grow Your Own models advanced and supported by the National Center for Grow Your Own. These are innovative and exciting programs that allow individual to be hired and work in a school system while they receive elements of traditional classroom education alongside apprenticeship style, hands on support.
Indeed, EdWeek proclaimed late in 2022 that that apprenticeships were the “new frontier of teacher preparation” and in 2023 the U.S. Departments of Education and Labor “announced a series of new efforts to expand Registered Apprenticeships for educators”.
But we also know that as vital a first step as improving the ways in which educators can enter the profession is, it is critically important how we engage and develop those teachers after they receive their licensure. Educators – be they novice, veteran, or somewhere in-between – are constantly asked to learn new skills, adapt to new pedagogical practices, and tailor instruction to the ever-changing needs and dynamics of their classes. Without the right supports these demands can be too much, leading to burnout and a departure from the profession.
So what role can apprenticeship-style thinking or principles play post-licensure in teacher development? I came across a business article recently that explored this type of question in the context of the business sector. In the article, the authors contend that one way businesses can position their people for success in an environment that requires continuous learning and skill development is by adapting apprenticeship principles as part of a broader development strategy. They write: “Creating a broad apprenticeship culture isn’t easy. But even adopting some apprenticeship techniques and scaling them can help to unlock learning opportunities and democratize skill building in ways that formal programs cannot.”
Now clearly, school systems and for-profit enterprises are different, but if, as the authors contend, “a distributed apprenticeship model begins with the belief that everyone shares two obligations: the responsibility to learn and the responsibility to teach”, is there any organization that embodies those core beliefs more universally than a school?
There’s no reason to think that being more deliberate about creating apprenticeship style learning cultures in schools that build off of apprenticeship licensure approaches could pay massive dividends for school culture, teacher development, and teacher retention. Unlocking this potential could be another example of where a little direction and a little structure goes a long way.
The Torace platform can support both loosely structured or highly structured apprenticeship style programs, whether it be for licensure or cultivating a culture of lifelong learning. Schedule a quick 15-minute demo to learn more.