Community fieldwork experiences promote deep cultural reflection essential for teaching in urban schools

What's New

New survey responses from teacher candidates in the UChicago Urban Teacher Education Program UTEP) indicate how expanded community fieldwork experiences strengthen aspiring teachers’ understanding of and commitment to teach and serve in urban schools. UChicago UTEP continues to boast a 90-percent five-year retention rate for its graduates, far exceeding the national rate of 50 percent of teachers leaving the profession within five years. This success is driven in large part by UTEP’s context-specific education model, which not only provides teaching residences in two different urban schools but now also engages teacher candidates in fieldwork, volunteering alongside experienced organizers within the communities in which they will serve.

Why It Matters

Research has shown that new teachers often leave urban school districts, in particular, because they feel inadequately prepared and supported for the environments they enter. With economic and racial segregation on the rise across America, it is more important than ever to prepare educators who have a deep understanding of and commitment to the communities in which they teach. In contrast to both traditional university-based teacher education programs and new accelerated preparation pathways, successful context-specific teacher preparation like the UChicago UTEP model incorporates both academic and practical work to help new teachers develop the reflective skills and cultural knowledge to become committed change agents within urban schools.