The Teacher Externship Program is a collaboration between Rural Capital Area employers, Chambers of Commerce (Chambers) and Independent School Districts (ISDs) within the region, to provide middle and high school educators’ professional development opportunities to enrich the classroom to career connections made for students.
Educators spend time with employers in various industries, to learn through direct experiences about how classroom content and learning strategies are applied in the workplace, to bring relevance to student learning.
The teachers gain insights into both the technical and essential skills required in the workplace and integrate these insights into their teaching plans and classroom management to better prepare students for future careers. The five-day externship experience consists of an orientation, three days of teachers on-site with the businesses, and a final presentation day.
In 2018 Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area collaborated with the following six ISDs and six Chambers to create externships for teachers to shadow area businesses:
- Dripping Springs ISD and Dripping Springs Chamber of Commerce
- Georgetown ISD and Georgetown Chamber of Commerce
- Hutto ISD and Hutto Chamber of Commerce
- Leander ISD and Leander Chamber of Commerce
- Round Rock ISD and Round Rock Chamber
- San Marcos Consolidated ISD and San Marcos Area Chamber of Commerce
That year, 130 employers participated in the program, with 166 teachers from 50 academic subject areas successfully completing their externships.
The program had a 98% completion rate, with more than 16,600 Rural Capital Area students benefiting from educator experiences.
How Does the Program Work?
The ISDs market to recruit teachers to participate in the program, and the chambers of commerce market to recruit businesses to host workplace opportunities.
The Chambers and ISDs then match the business and teacher based on the workplace requirements and the teacher’s subject matter.
After matches are made, the Chambers and ISDs work with the businesses and teachers to individualize each externship.
During the three days of interaction in the workplace, the teachers develop strategies to integrate, not only job-based learning for career content, but also essential skills into daily curriculum for students.
At the end of the program each teacher submits a sample lesson plan demonstrating the new strategies and schedule a date to present their learnings to their peers.
What's the Purpose of the Program?
The purpose of the Teacher Externship Program is to engage educators in activities in business and industry to learn how classroom content and learning strategies apply in the workplace.
Educators improve their instructional practices by incorporating employment skills that meet current industry standards.
Reactions from Participants
Comments from teacher evaluations:
- I truly enjoyed my Externship and learned and observed educational material relevant to the courses I teach.
- The Externship program is an excellent opportunity to learn more about industries and what the students need to know to be successful.
- The activities that I shadowed will definitely impact my classroom teaching in a positive way.
- Great experience! Learned a lot about employer needs and expectations that I can pass along to students.
- As a Special Education teacher, this partnership helped me see how to start preparing our students for possibly supported employment programs.
- I cannot put into words the amazing experience I had! Doing my Externship simply reaffirmed the importance of teaching writing and reading for a purpose.
- Externing with the DA's office was extremely rewarding. It allowed me to learn so much about how our Justice System actually works and will be extremely beneficial in my teaching in the coming years.
- It is very useful to see how professionals in the field use the technology we use in the classroom.
- This experience was the best form of professional development that I have ever had.
Comments from employers evaluations:
- The teacher we had was great! We learned a lot from each other! We will be continuing our professional relationship even after the Externship.
- Program was great. The teacher was full of energy and eager to learn all things that happens in corporate world. Both on Technology and Business Operations
- Our Teacher was excellent to work with and knew exactly what he was looking to learn.
- Our extern was excited to learn, and I appreciated that she shared a lot of her experience she has gained at RRISD with us!
- My extern was very passionate and eager to learn about my profession and the company culture. She was very attentive and asked appropriate questions throughout her time here. My staff thoroughly enjoyed getting to meet her.
- I believe that this was a Win-Win experience. But I also believe that she had a great deal to do with how exceptional this experience was. She is a dynamic individual who is truly looking after her student's and her school's best interest. We all saw how dedicated and passionate she is about her position as an educator. We could not have been more pleased with how everything turned out. Thank you for allowing us to participate this year.