According to the National Assessment for Educational Progress: Nation’s Report Card, U.S. schools
are losing even more special education teachers – an
average of 13% per year leave the profession. And
this is happening while the number of U.S. students
enrolled in special education programs has risen 30
percent over the last decade.
Teachers need CRE skills, either through teacher
preparation programs or through targeted professional
development, to effectively communicate, collaborate, and problem-solve. In a recent New York Times
Op-Ed piece, Suzanne Bouffard reported on the work
of CASEL and the USDE-funded instructional coaching
study recently completed in New York City that examined one-on-one coaching in SEL for elementary school
teachers and concluded this type of “teacher education” is essential.
Work has begun but needs to be intensified. The
CRE field – especially the leadership in the Educa-
tion Section of ACR – has been initiating CRE in
teacher education. The Conflict Resolution Educa-
tion in Teacher Education (CRETE) project, based at
Temple University, has been collaborating to infuse
CRE in teacher education programs since 2004.
CRETE has been funded through Temple Univer-
sity by the U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for
the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, the
JAMS Foundation, the Pennsylvania Commission on
Crime and Delinquency, the William Penn Founda-
tion, and the George Gund Foundation. When CRETE
began, there were no teacher education programs
in the United States that required CRE as a compo-
nent of pre-service teacher training. CRETE has
now partnered with more than 30 teacher educa-
tion programs in twelve states and the District of
Columbia. And, CRETE partners have collaborated
with the school districts in their region to develop
innovative connections between CRE in pre-service
and in-service teacher professional development.
CRETE is designed to develop teachers’ knowledge
and skills in CRE/SEL, help them transfer this learning
to classroom practices, and infuse CRE/SEL into
teaching of core content. CRETE meets the criteria
that make a S.A.F.E. program (sequenced step-by-step training, active forms of learning, sufficient time
on skill development, and explicit learning goals)
superior to non-S.A.F.E. programs in all six areas of
SEL/CRE outcomes, as elaborated in the Payton et al
and Durlak et al studies mentioned earlier.
To date, CRETE has worked with over 4,500 teachers
in the U.S. and has provided training to educators in
Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe and the Middle
East. The Conflict Resolution Education Connection,
the CRETE project website funded through CRETE
grants from USDE, the JAMS Foundation and the
William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, offers CRETE
materials (including downloadable learning modules)
that are free for educators everywhere.
WHAT IS NEXT FOR US TO FURTHER INSTITUTIONALIZE CRE IN TEACHER EDUCATION?
Let me suggest three courses of action that we can take, and that I believe, ACR should lead.
3ACR can lead conflict resolution educators in developing an ethical
standards of practice document
that insists on certain standards
of teacher and adult education
in CRE. Consequently, conflict
educators would have the
responsibility to advocate and
deliver CRE initiatives that are
“full loaf”, which may mean
foregoing contracts in which only
the “students ‘need’ help.”
1ACR can continue to innovate in this area by offering a free webinar series on CRE/SEL for all education leaders with specific targets to colleges of education. Ethically, knowing what we
know, we should be more proactively marketing and publicizing the
benefit of this work and sharing the resources we have developed.
2ACR can encourage linking CRE and teacher education more closely to Common Core and state standards of education, as is already done in some states like Pennsylvania. This will cement
the understanding that CRE is a robust intervention for academic
as well as social success. Linkage of CRE skills and competencies to
educational standards is perhaps the most powerful lever for having
teacher preparation programs take CRE seriously.