Message from the Dean: Spring 2022

June 9, 2022
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Dean Shanna Hagan-Burke
Dr. Shanna Hagan-Burke
Dean, School of Education
As the School of Education (SOE) prepares students to teach society’s most precious commodity, we are doing more than helping them pursue rewarding careers; we are responding to a growing national problem.

Schools are experiencing a nation-wide teacher shortage. A 2021 national survey conducted by Education Week found that “nearly half of district leaders and principals said they had struggled to hire a sufficient number of full-time teachers this school year.”

Closer to home, the U.S. Department of Education reported that Texas is experiencing significant teacher shortages, especially in the areas of mathematics, science, and special education. Projections for 2022-23 also predict state-wide shortages for language arts teachers.

The SOE is nationally recognized for exemplary teacher preparation programs and a reputation of producing new teachers who are exceptionally well prepared. Many principals and districts who hire our graduates share that their performance appears more similar to that of a second-year teacher rather than that of a rookie, and campus leaders attribute these advanced skills to the intense preparation they received at Baylor.

How do we do it? The cover story of this issue reveals some of the unique qualities of Baylor’s BSEd program.
One key ingredient to our success is the substantial amount of time Baylor students spend in actual schools teaching real students. The extensive field work we offer sets Baylor apart from many other teacher-preparation programs.

Students do not learn how to teach by sitting in a college classroom and talking about it — or listening to someone explain what they should be doing. They need opportunities for practice in authentic situations with qualified experts offering feedback in real time.

Building and maintaining this caliber of teacher preparation programming has many moving parts, starting with systematic coordination between Baylor and the local schools that host our students. SOE appoints a faculty member to serve each of the Professional Development Schools where many of our students’ field experiences occur, including some of their earliest. We choose and prepare mentor teachers who host Baylor students in their classrooms, ensuring that they are apprenticing with the very best educators. This coordination and thoughtful planning results in optimal learning experiences for future teachers.

Helping students move from theory to practice may sound simple enough, but in actuality, this transition requires complex support mechanisms and caring professionals to maximize their success in authentic teaching environments. Our dedication to ensure this happens is reflective of Baylor’s mission to educate students “for worldwide leadership and service by integrating academic excellence and Christian commitment within a caring community.”
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