Teaching the Teachers

Pearson's Teacher Education and Development Group


Beep BallBlindfold firmly in place and baseball bat in hand, teacher-in-training Ryan Bennett steps up to the plate on a playing field at the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Kentucky, in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains.

The "umpire" pulls a plug out of a specially designed ball, setting off a loud beeping sound. Mr. Bennett swats the ball from a tee, and runs off to first base with the help of a non-blindfolded guide.

The "Beeper Baseball" game is part of a course Mr. Bennett is taking from education professor Dr. Lynn Woolsey to prepare him to teach students with special needs, such as visual impairment. Dr. Woolsey has built a trip to the baseball field into her course by relying on Pearson's MyEducationLab to help her students learn.

MyEducationLab shows the way

MyEducationLabMyEducationLab helps train teachers through authentic in-class video footage, interactive simulations, examples of teacher and student work, and case studies. Launched in 2008, MyEducationLab is now used in more than 320 U.S. colleges, and has about 60,000 registered student users.

"Every lesson in MyEducationLab has connections to the real world of the classroom," says Mr. Bennett. "Everything you learn there you say, 'I can see myself doing that as a teacher.' There are videos illustrating all types of situations that I'd be likely to encounter with students."

Preparing teachers for such classroom situations is the principle behind Pearson's Teacher Education and Development Group, known as TED, which was formed in 2008 to bring together the company's teacher-focused operations across North America.

The business includes Pearson's industry-leading higher education imprints, Allyn & Bacon and Merrill; professional development programs in literacy, mathematics, and English-language learning; and teacher certification assessments for more than 20 states and the National Board for Professional Teacher Standards.

Beep Ball TED also provides "Learning Teams," a program that boosts teacher skills by providing a framework that allows them to learn from each other, and the "Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol" (SIOP), a pioneering research-based approach to English-language instruction that helps teachers successfully present subjects such as mathematics and science while strengthening English-language skills for non-native speakers.

In October, Pearson announced the acquisition of A+RISE, a new addition to TED that provides "Standards2Strategy," an online database of searchable and practical instructional strategies for addressing the needs of English language learners, all tied to state standards. TED also offers professional development on using this online resource in the classroom.

TED now includes Pearson staff based in Boston, New York, Columbus, Ohio, Glenview, Illinois, and Santa Monica, California.

"Education quality has to be tackled at every step in a lifespan," says Susan Badger, chief executive officer of TED. "We are unique in the entire industry in providing solutions to address needs at every place along that continuum."

These solutions includes a partnership between TED and the Ohio Department of Education to develop a Literacy Leadership Teams model for the ongoing professional development of hundreds of teachers from kindergarten through high school. Another project teams Pearson with the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future (NCTAF), a non-profit advocacy group, to launch an online learning community to provide support from experienced teachers for novice teachers and teacher candidates.

From New Hampshire to Florida

As the leaves fell on a crisp autumn day in Concord, New Hampshire, TED products and services were on display at the New Hampshire Technical Institute Community College, where 150 students are enrolled in teacher education.

Foundations of American Education 6th Edition L. Dean WebbMyEducationLab is also used at the college, with the best-selling Pearson textbook, "Foundations of American Education." By viewing MyEducationLab videos, "what the students hear from me and the pages of books is legitimized, because these students are very attuned to videos," says Jim Pietrovito, professor of social science and education.

The average age of students at the college has declined from around 29 to 19 since he joined the faculty in 1995, as community colleges have become more popular for young people just out of high school, he says.

Today's young teachers-in-training "want to use technology - it's in their wheelhouse," adds Lee-Anne T. Spalding, an instructor of Teaching and Learning Principles at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. The university, Florida's top producer of teachers, sends 1,000 teaching interns each semester to schools in 11 counties in central Florida.

"There's nothing like seeing a good teacher in action," Ms. Spalding says. "Often I've seen high-quality teachers in the classroom and have said to myself, 'Boy, I wish I could film them,' but now my students can see them on the MyEducationLab videos."

"These videos show what good teaching is"

Back at the University of the Cumberlands, Dr. Woolsey says the adoption of MyEducationLab saved her so much class time that she would normally have spent drilling students on textbook content that it allowed her department to stage the Beeper Baseball game in conjunction with the Physical Education Department, as part of a joint case study.

"Here in Appalachia, we're very isolated geographically," she says, so the MyEducationLab videos show students some of the best teaching practices form around the country.

"They're babies," she says, fondly, of her students. "They haven't seen good teaching, so these videos show what good teaching is."

For more information on MyEducationLab or to review case studies and video testimonials included in this article, visit www.myeducationlab.com