Clusters & Hexes Creating Educator Pipelines with Online Modules: Reimagining Educator Prep from Community to Classroom

Workshop Session 2
Blended Leadership Equity and Inclusion

Brief Abstract

This presentation highlights the Educator Workforce Initiatives Team at Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at ASU, progressive and innovative work with local districts to re-invigorate the education profession utilizing new differentiated roles. Creating teams of educators with distributed expertise in collaborative spaces through the development of essential skills through online modules.


Michael Stewart, Assistant Superintendent of Operations, Maricopa County Regional School District. (BS in Sociology from the University of Notre Dame, MS in Counseling and Human Services, Indiana University)

Extended Abstract

At the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at ASU, we believe that it is time to reconsider the one-teacher-one-classroom model and start thinking about teams of educators with distributed expertise, working in concert to better meet the personalized, academic, and social-emotional needs of P-12 students and the communities in which they live. We believe that this reimagined team of educators will prepare our students for both the current and future workforce, and improve their prospects for gainful and meaningful employment.


Our reimagination of the Educator Workforce aligns with efforts--across domestic and international industries of every sector--to better prepare a workforce at large that meets current and projected needs in a rapidly changing society. It stands to reason that if the workforce of the future must look different than today, the educators and systems preparing that workforce must look different, too.


As a society, we have to begin to understand that educators are required to do more for students than they have been expected to do in the past, and as we continue to redefine what success in the classroom looks like for a student, from personalized learning to everyday skills like time management, coping test anxiety, social awkwardness, and organizational skills. The question isn’t how can educators address the needs of every student, but how can we prepare and equipped these educators with strategies and skills to help them maneuver around the obstacles they face daily every day in their classrooms and communities. If we consider and agree that the current model expects more from teachers, especially novice teachers, that may be humanly possible, and we also recognize that currently, the teaching profession is Untenable, Undifferentiated, and Unresponsive, then we need a new model which includes a team of educators in our classrooms who collectively embody that ideal teacher, each with specific roles who as a team possess the full set of knowledge, skills, and dispositions we expect of single teachers today.


Commonly reported reasons given by teachers for leaving the profession are low salaries, working conditions, class size, workload, non-teaching duties, paperwork, lack of supplies and lack of support from school leaders (Riggs, 2013, Skaalvik, E. & Skaalvik, S., 2011).  A common belief is that those teachers who have administrative support tend to have more satisfactory working conditions. (Marlow, 1996). It is the idea of the influence of leaders, specifically, at a small team level that motivates this study to continue to look into teams of educators and the leadership styles of those leaders on teacher job satisfaction. This revolving door effect is not just noticed at the grade level or school site level. The community in and around the school feels the weight of the turnover of teachers.  Parents are apprehensive about schools with significant turnover (Walsh, K. J., Ed, D., & Battitori, J. 2011).


In this new team-teaching model, each educator can focus on his or her passions and share that passion with the students. Understanding that every “wicked problem” (Jordan, Kleinsasser, & Roe, 2014) can be considered to be a symptom of another problem, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College has dedicated multiple teams of professionals to address the issue from as many angles as possible including teacher preparation, community design, and educator workforce.


Our communities are rich with untapped resources of experienced adults who can contribute meaningfully to schools, but who currently don’t have obvious ways to participate in the education workforce. For example, many businesses have programs to incentivize community service among their employees, could we more systematically and strategically leverage these people to fill roles of real-world project supervisors? Can higher education institutions and local school districts forge partnerships enabling undergraduate majors to fulfill work study commitments in local secondary schools instead of the campus dining hall? Moreover, as the data suggest, many former K-12 educators want to return to the classroom if it didn’t require a full-time, five-day-a-week, 180-day commitment. They could fill any number of roles, ranging from small-group reading teachers to playground supervisors. The good news is that the educator talent pool today includes young millennials and post-millennials, demographics that tend to desire work environments characterized by qualities that education is not generally perceived as providing. They want flexibility and the freedom to think and act creatively as individuals and in teams. As we design a preparation system for new educator roles, they must be competency-based, personalized, and interoperable, allowing educators to experiment within the profession, and the flexibility to move between roles as a function of what they believe, want, and can do. If we get this right, not only will we create new pathways into the educator workforce, but we will simultaneously elevate the profession.


We have been actively meeting with educational leaders, industry innovators, business and non-profit leaders, university faculty, and teachers to help us imagine a new Educator Workforce, and in these budding partnerships we are meeting allies and friends who share our vision of teaching and learning now and in the future. As part of reimagining the educator workforce, we have been working collaboratively with stakeholders in designing a suite of asynchronous online learning experiences intended to help prepare individuals to enter new educator roles. As we evaluate the purpose and place of traditional undergraduate and graduate degrees that lead to teacher certification, we must also develop alternative pathways to educator roles of other team members. In this new model, anyone working with students would need to demonstrate proficiency in the knowledge, skills, and dispositions associated with the role they are filling. For some roles, this preparation may be relatively short and in other cases, much more robust. In all cases, it should be grounded in specific competencies that should be seen as part of a larger set, such that educators could “stack” competencies to access opportunities for more significant, more sophisticated roles which would be associated with greater responsibility and compensation.


Presentation Learning Outcomes:


LO1:   Change participant framing and get them to make sure they are asking the right

questions about their local problem

LO2:   Reimagine what their current staffing model could look like

LO3:   What potential educator pipeline exist in their local communities and how can they

LO4:   What skills and training are needed to ensure this new pool of potential educators is



What types of collaboration or interactivity:

Participants would have the opportunity to break out into small interactive groups or shoulder partners and talk about the specifics of their community. How without barriers they might be able to implement changes. Identify what talent pools that are within their communities that are waiting to be asked to participate



  • The idea that classroom can look different
  • Communities are pushing the boundaries of how educators can be deployed in their schools


Implementation at their home institution:

  • By actively participating in the workshop the participant will be able to return to their community and see their situation in a different light, in that situations, don’t have to be the way that they have always been, other options can be implemented that are specific and unique to their community.



Primary and Secondary audience types:

  • IHE-based Program Administrators                           
  • Human Resources Administrators
  • Non-IHE-based Program Administrators                 
  • Researchers
  • State Agency Administrators                                        
  • Faculty
  • Site Supervisors/Evaluators/Specialists                   
  • Interns/New Teachers/Residents
  • Alternative Leadership Preparation Programs






Required Materials:

Presenters will need the standard audio / visual equipment provided with the conference, an easel pad of paper (i.e., 3M easel pad), and markers.