Despite the onset of COVID-19, Cheryl Hitchcock, the director of assessment and accreditation for MTSU’s College of Education, helped to guide 35 future teachers through the assessment portion of student teaching this fall on Zoom.
She met weekly with Residency II students, also known as student teachers or teacher candidates, for two hours in the evening after they had returned home from a day in the classroom.
“I try to provide some really strong (teaching) examples during our time together,” she said. “It has caused me to be more thoughtful about ‘How do I model the teaching virtually?’ and ‘What are the kinds of things that we can do to support our students who are teaching virtually as well?’”
In addition to her role with the student teaching assessment known as the edTPA, or educative teacher performance assessment, Hitchcock also co-teaches a Residency I course, which provides students with hands-on teaching practice and prepares them for the following semester of student teaching.
A McMinnville, Tennessee, native, and Warren County resident, Hitchcock has also been an associate professor in the college since 2007.
Hitchcock received her degrees in education from Tennessee Tech University. She earned her bachelor’s degree in home economics 7-12 with a concentration in child development, her master’s in curriculum and instruction with a focus on early childhood special education and her doctorate in exception learning with a focus on young children and families.
Before working at MTSU, Hitchcock was a teacher in Warren County Schools for 16 years in both middle school and preschool.
In 2010, Phillip Waldrop, the College of Education’s associate dean at the time, approached Hitchcock about field testing what would become the edTPA. The new test was set to become a nationally-assessed written and video portfolio for aspiring teachers and was developed at Stanford University.
“Being able to be involved that early on (with the edTPA) really … helped me do a lot of things that I might not have been able to do without that early involvement,” Hitchcock said.
She attended conferences with the creators, helped develop edTPA benchmarks for early childhood education, scored assessments, and became an edTPA national academy consultant.
As MTSU’s resident edTPA ‘guru,’ Hitchcock began advising Residency II students on navigating the rigorous assessment. She did this in addition to teaching her full course load of education classes.
In the fall of 2010, she guided three student teachers through the edTPA process. In 2020, she has helped hundreds of teacher candidates tackle the edTPA. For the past two years, the college has had a 94% pass rate.
Hitchcock sees her role as an educator of future teachers as one that connects directly back to the pre-K-12 classroom.
“At the end of the day it’s not about me, it’s really about those students in P-12 classrooms,” she said. “Everything I do with my teacher candidates is going to impact those students in the P-12 classroom.”
— Stephanie Barrette (Stephanie.Barrette@mtsu.edu)