HISD, university partners meet to strengthen collaboration

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As HISD works to find an effective teacher for every classroom, one of the district’s renewed focuses in on strengthen partnerships with colleges and universities to recruit and better prepare new teachers.

To help achieve this, HISD hosted representatives from several universities Wednesday to begin a discussion on how the district and higher education institutions can improve the lines of communication when it comes to teacher training and support. Among those in attendance were the University of Houston, University of Houston-Downtown, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Texas State, Sam Houston State, Texas Southern, Prairie View A&M, and University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

Superintendent Richard Carranza said he knows the past relationship between HISD and some universities wasn’t as robust as it needs to be, and Wednesday’s meeting is a step in the right direction.

“Now we fix it, and the way we fix it is having you here today and for you to hear what is our ethos going forward in terms of teaching and learning,” Carranza said.

Part of the process of improving those relationships is showing university leaders that HISD is committed to a better teacher-development program and providing the right support for recent graduates.

“If we boil down the whole process of teaching and learning and effective teaching as a metric, I think we really lose a significant portion of what it means to educate the whole child,” he said. “We consider this to be part of our core mission: To recruit, induct, and develop our professional teaching force. We’re not leading with the hammer. We’re leading with capacity development and skill development.”

His message was well-received by those in attendance. Douglas Hamman, the Texas Tech College of Education department chair, said he was encouraged by what he heard and looks forward to more dialogue about how universities and HISD can better collaborate.

“I think probably the main thing is we hope to expand our opportunities with HISD … and in doing that, contribute to (HISD’s) vision and how our preparation program can help do that,” he said. “One of the things I asked for is regular meeting opportunities. Not just to get together but to ask how are graduates doing? How are they doing in terms of their qualities and characteristics? How are they doing in terms of improving student achievement? Feedback about our product to the preparation program, that’s what will be valuable.”