No one gets to student teach at San Diego high's School of Digital Media and Design (DMD) without being immersed in the Linked Learning approach. Principal Cheryl Hibbeln only wants staff who are committed to the career academy model, which bridges academics and technical job skills through hands-on, project-based learning that allows students to practice what they're learning in a real workplace. So Hibbeln helped develop a pilot program to teach the method at nearby San Diego State University's School of Teacher Education.
Linked Learning Lens enrolled its first group of up-and-coming teachers at San Diego State in 2008, in collaboration with ConnectEd, the organization that serves as a hub for Linked Learning in California, and three other California State University campuses -- Fresno, Sacramento and San Bernardino. Middle and high school credential candidates who complete the curriculum receive a Linked Learning certification along with their state credential.
"We're preparing academic teachers to teach in career technical education (CTE) schools and collaborate with other CTE teachers," says Nancy Farnan, director of San Diego State's School of Teacher Education, "Typically teachers don't have experience with collaborating."
The program is set to expand to two more state universities in January. Supporters are pressing for a uniform certification in California, but Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently vetoed a bill, Assembly Bill 1223, that would have established a statewide Linked Learning Lens curriculum.
Professional development programs in CTE are also on the rise for veteran teachers. Elk Grove Unified School District uses a curriculum developed by the Ford Partnership for Advanced Studies. In the Central Valley, the San Joaquin County Office of Education, which runs the Teachers College of San Joaquin added a Master's Degree program for teachers working in schools that are moving into CTE. Teaching CTE and academic teachers how to collaborate on lesson plans and curriculum is a priority. "They discover the overlap between the two sets of standards," explains college director, Catherine Kearney, "They begin to see that they don't have separate jobs inside the same institution."