Five questions for Scott Ridley
Scott Ridley is dean of the College of Education at Texas Tech University. Located in Lubbock, Texas, TTU’s College of Education enrolls about 2,100 students across a range of undergraduate and graduate programs. Since 2011, the College has undergone significant reform including the evolution of all academic programs to a competency-based orientation. The reformed teacher-education program, TechTeach, is a clinically intensive, competency-based program design to prepare students who will improve the academic achievement of K-12 students. It is among the first in the nation to combine intense, clinical experiences with opportunities to dramatically improve effective teaching behaviors to impact student learning.
What was your first role working in education?
I was one of those people that came back into education after working in another field (Eli Lilly). My Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Texas in Austin positioned me to guide a multi-urban district K-12 action research coalition in Phoenix while I was at Arizona State University. That work launched a Professional Development School (PDS) movement for teacher preparation in inner-city Phoenix in the 1990s. I was the first PDS “site coordinator” and learned all about the world of K-12 over eight years of school-university partnership immersion. After winning a number of federal grants, the early PDS work at ASU became iTeachAZ and grew to 30 districts all over the state of Arizona with teacher preparation, in-service professional development, principal preparation and comprehensive school reform initiatives.
What is one pivotal moment in your career in educator preparation that left a positive impact on you or others?
The pivotal moment was the collaborative design process for the first school-university teacher preparation program in the Osborn School District in Phoenix. We literally co-created a new partnership teacher preparation program with ASU faculty and a large number of teachers and administrators in the library of an inner-city elementary school. That school-university partnership became the template for collaborative programs all over Arizona (and now Texas).
Why did you decide to join Deans for Impact?
Frustration with the entrenched mindsets of many university teacher educators and the hope that the Deans for Impact collaborators were willing to team together to find better ways to learn.
What most excites you about the opportunity to transform the field of educator preparation in the years ahead?
Being a part of collaborative school-university team with the explicit purpose of learning and improving educator preparation is exciting. Taking reasoned risks to pilot innovations and acknowledging that we do not “know it all” removes the barriers (and the weight) associated with the status quo. I know from experience that we can continue to improve the effectiveness of educators. I am excited about continuing to learn.
What is one surprising thing that everyone should know about the program you lead?
It was cutting-edge yesterday, it is above average today, it will be obsolete tomorrow. We continue to learn and grow as a society, therefore our educator-preparation programs must continue to evolve. We strive to lead at Texas Tech University.
Editor’s Note: This post is part of an ongoing series featuring Q&As with all the member deans of Deans for Impact.