3 Trends in K-12 Education That Are Shaping Teacher Training

by Ashley Eneriz

Enrolling in a teacher training program is about more than simply earning a degree.

As a future teacher or educator seeking to expand your knowledge, you are working to equip yourself with the skills and knowledge necessary to shape the next generation of learners and help them unlock their gifts and potential. Committing to the calling of education means you must be prepared to grow with the current trends and challenges in the classroom.

“The field of education will continue to adopt initiatives to adjust to the changing face of America,” says Andrea Liston, EdD, administrative director for the Division of Teacher Education at Azusa Pacific University. “What’s known is that diversity within the classroom will continue to grow and evolve.”

The following three trends in K-12 education are shaping teacher preparation—and are crucial for current and future teachers to be aware of.

1. Co-Teaching

Co-teaching is when a classroom is taught by both general education and special education teachers to meet the needs of all students with and without disabilities. “Co-teaching is effective for students with a variety of instructional needs, including learning disabilities, English language learners, and students considered at high risk,” Liston notes.

Co-teaching differs in appearance (and goals) depending on the grade level. “In the elementary years, co-teaching is often used as a proactive instructional model to offer supplemental support to all students,” Liston explains, adding that the aim is to provide early interventions for struggling students. “In the secondary years, co-teaching targets specific general education classrooms, which students with disabilities attend with their typical peers.”

2. The Science Behind Teaching

Another trend that empowers educators is understanding the cognitive and behavioral science behind the learning process, said David Stevens, EdD, chair of APU’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. “By teaching the fundamentals of how we learn, our teachers are able to adapt and evolve throughout their career and address the needs of all students,” Stevens explains.

New teacher training looks at the child holistically and considers the entirety of their learning journey from kindergarten through high school—and beyond—rather than just focusing on grade-level accomplishments.

3. California’s Teacher Shortage

California school districts are in need of qualified teachers. According to a report from the Learning Policy Institute, among 25 districts statewide, around 75 percent of them were unable to fill all open positions with fully credentialed teachers by the time the 2017-18 school year started. Even more troubling, Liston notes that the teacher shortage in California shows no signs of easing up.

To help fill the gap for the most-needed fields—like special education, math, and science—APU partners with local school districts so graduate students can become contracted teachers while they are working on their credentials (known as an intern credential program). Not only does this solution help California’s educator shortage, but it enables APU students to secure employment before graduation.

The university also offers an Integrated Bachelor’s and Teaching Credential Program to get qualified teachers into the classroom sooner.

How APU’s School of Education Stays On-Trend

Recently, the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing rolled out new standards for the entire state. Azusa Pacific University took this opportunity to change its education programming, securing its position as a leader in teacher training and staying ahead of future educational changes.

“We decided to dream and design a program that we wish we could have attended when we were training to become teachers,” Stevens says. “We made CTC’s standards fit our program rather than the other way around.”

APU’s new curriculum addresses three areas that help set the school’s offerings apart from other teacher training programs. First, foundation courses taken by all students combine special education with general education. Second, these courses are co-taught by special education and general education professors, so teacher candidates experience co-teaching modeled in their own classrooms. And third, the curriculum includes courses in neuroscience, psychology, and human development to better address how to educate students and meet their learning needs.

If you feel called to be a teacher and desire to help the next generation realize its potential, there is no better time to join this evolving career field. Teaching means making a difference that lasts a lifetime.