STEP upholds the fundamental belief that the goal of the educational enterprise is the success of all students, and that this goal should organize the joint work of both researchers and practitioners. Theory and practice join for the accomplishment of this key goal.
By enacting practice across the university and fieldwork settings, candidates learn from experience both in and from practice. Pairing candidates with cooperating teachers who understand STEP's vision of teaching heightens the probability that candidates are working with cooperating teachers whose teaching practices reflect and reinforce what candidates are learning in STEP coursework. Cooperating teachers are selected by committees of expert teacher educators who consider the alignment between their teaching and the STEP curriculum, their dedication to mentoring new teachers, and their experience in the classroom. Cooperating teachers must have at least three years of teaching experience in their area of certification and a strong commitment and willingness to mentor and support teacher candidates.
STEP-Secondary teacher candidates (TCs) are placed in year-long classroom teaching situations under the guidance of expert cooperating teachers in local middle schools and high schools. Increasingly, placements are with partner schools that are actively engaged in projects of school reform. Together with the cooperating teacher, the university supervisor provides direct and invaluable support for STEP candidates during their student teaching experience.
In order to support the improvement of practice, STEP has developed professional partner relationships with local schools that serve diverse populations and that are engaged in reforms of teaching and schooling aimed at excellence and equity. These schools serve as sites for the placement of cohorts of beginning teachers and as hubs for professional development activity focused upon strengthening teaching and redesigning schools. The partnerships promote further coherence in STEP by providing opportunities for school and university faculty to co-construct clinical coursework.