- Expectations for Online Students
- Specialization Areas: List of Courses
- Special Education Minor
- Special Education Field Experiences
- BCBA/ABA Intensive Practicum
- Course Rotation Schedule
Special Education Resident Teacher Program
The RT program is a two-year program which begins approximately June 1. RTs typically complete the program in May of the second year. In most cases, the school placement changes during the two years, providing the RT with two different grade level/school experiences.
Background, Goals, & Philosophy
The Resident Teacher Program in Special Education (SERTP) at the University of North Dakota (UND) seeks to attract and keep teachers in rural schools in North Dakota and western Minnesota that have had great difficulty recruiting and retaining teachers. SERTP's goal is to provide inexperienced teachers with support in entering the special education teaching profession. The purpose is to increase the pool of endorsed and well prepared special educators in the region by enabling University of North Dakota students, who are admitted to a graduate program in special education, to complete a two year internship in a school district or special education unit under the joint supervision of experienced special educators and a University of North Dakota special education faculty member. The focus of the program is in the area of mild/moderate disabilities with an emphasis on working with students in inclusionary settings.
The program is based on partnerships between the University of North Dakota, and public schools and special education units across the state of North Dakota and western Minnesota.
The target population of candidates is individuals considered by UND as "home-grown." In SERTP's case, this means recruits are already living in a rural area and will be trained to become special education teachers in their community. SERTP seeks unemployed or recently graduated general education teachers to participate in its program. SERTP also seeks candidates with other completed baccalaureate degrees.
Resident teachers (RTs) earn a M.S. in special education through online coursework, and on-the-job experience in a school district/special education unit. Each RT assumes full responsibility for a special education caseload. RTs earn a stipend and a waiver of UND tuition for a majority of the coursework in the master's degree (tuition is waived fall and spring semesters, but not summer). RTs are responsible for university fees and books each semester. Candidates are expected to complete a two year program, although in certain cases, a one year program is an option for completing the program. Typically, candidates with no or little completed coursework in special education, complete a two year option, whereas, candidates who have completed several courses in special education, complete a one year option.
Resident mentors (certified special education teachers) from the school district/special education unit provide support to the RTs and work with the UND mentor. These mentors offer RTs consultation, demonstration teaching, feedback and support. Resident mentors receive information prior to the start of the academic year. This occurs on site at each of the school districts and is conducted by the UND mentors. Resident mentors are not paid to participate in the program. They are chosen collaboratively by the school district, special education director, and University.
In order to participate in the Resident Teacher Program, a school district forms a team consisting of the principal, special education mentors and special education director and/or coordinator that must commit to the following:
- Provide a mentor teacher in each of the disability categories (i.e. LD, ED, ID).
- Balance the RTs caseload and time between students in each of the three disability areas.
- Provide a set/designated time for the RT and resident mentors to meet on a regular basis. Optimally, the Resident mentor's time with the RT should be daily for 15-30 minutes. At a minimum, mentoring time should occur for 30-60 minutes once a week.
The University of North Dakota's representative of the Special Education Program Area agrees to the following responsibilities:
- Provide an orientation for the Resident mentors.
- Be available by email and telephone to answer questions and provide consultation.
- Arrange for a minimum of one on-site visit with the RT and school team each month.
- Be responsible for clarifying the requirements for internship credits and assigning all grades.
Applicants apply for both the master's program in special education and the SERTP. Admission to both programs must be completed no later than March 15. Admission to both programs is competitive. See "Graduate Admissions" on the UND website for the application for the master's program and "Application" on the SERTP website for the RT program.
The admissions process for the master's program consists of a transcript/GPA review, recommendations review and writing assignment. The SERTP admissions process consists of admissions to the master's program, an interview, a thorough reference check via telephone, and a problem-solving writing activity. Candidates admitted to both the master's and RT programs are then interviewed by the school district, allowing the school district/special education unit to have a role in the final decision regarding the placement of the RT. Note that the program attempts to place RTs in areas they wish to be placed, although this is not always possible and depends on placement availability.
Resident Teacher Candidates
RTs can complete the year of residency without completing the master's degree, although the University encourages them to complete the master's as quickly as possible.
Incentives for RTs
The academic year tuition waivers, stipends, and mentoring components mentioned above are the greatest incentives for candidates.
Incentives for School Districts
Special education teachers in the schools receive support from the RTs with their caseload of students. Schools are frequently able to retain the RT as an employee of the school after a one or two year "on-site interview." Since the RT is taking University coursework, teachers in the schools benefit from the information RTs learn about best practices and current trends in the field. In addition, the master's coursework delivered online is often accessed by teachers who want to complete a master's degree, but have not previously been able to attend courses on the Grand Forks campus.
Incentives for the University
The special education master's program enrollment has more than tripled since the initiation of the SERTP, therefore recruitment is an important benefit to the University. In addition, the partnerships with several K-12 schools established through the SERTP contribute to the University's presence across the region, as well as meeting several aspects of the University's Strategic Plan.
Incentives for the State of North Dakota and western Minnesota
Recruitment, preparation, and retention of special education strategists to meet the shortage of special education teachers in rural areas is a priority of the ND State Legislature, thus the SERTP meets an area of critical need in the state of North Dakota. Likewise, there has been a critical shortage of special education teachers in schools in western Minnesota, thus these schools are able to recruit and retain previously hard to find special education teachers. In addition, the preparation of highly qualified "quality" teachers for quality schools, meet the mandate of the No Child Left Behind Act.
RTs are mentored and supported by resident mentors (certified special education teachers in the school), special education directors and/or coordinators, a University of North Dakota clinical supervisor, and a University of North Dakota advisor. In addition to this support, the RTs form a strong cohort group and support each other.
The school district/special education unit provides funding of $17,900 for each resident teacher accepted into the program that will be placed in their district/unit. Administered by the University of North Dakota, these funds are used to underwrite a 9-month half-time Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA) appointment for each student. This pays the RT a stipend and also partially supports the UND mentor and program costs. The work assignment for GTAs participating in the program is in the district/special education unit.
What makes this program unique? Why is it successful?
- The appointment of the Resident Teachers as Graduate Teaching Assistants, therefore providing them with a tuition waiver or scholarship for most of the master's program.
- The three layered mentorship: building level mentors, university field mentor, and university advising mentor.
- The on-the-job training format while taking graduate courses makes for natural connections between research and practice and between the theoretical and real-life.
- The delivery of the coursework online allows schools across the region to participate in the program so that other teachers in the district or area have the opportunity to access the coursework.
- The program meets the needs of schools in rural/remote areas since the RTs are prepared in a cross-categorical program that licenses them as educational strategists who are able to case manage students with learning disabilities, emotional disturbance, and intellectual disabilities.