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Teacher Residency | Teacher Talk

Part of my job at the University of South Dakota is working with students who are in Teacher Residency, or what many know as “student teaching.” USD School of Education is part of a national organization, the Prepared to Teach network, and they recently released a brief working towards a national definition of teacher residency:

“Teacher residencies—where aspiring teachers spend an entire year alongside an accomplished mentor teacher while preparing for their chosen profession—have become exemplars of how to shift the landscape of teacher education. Residency graduates typically remain in the field at much higher rates than beginning teachers, addressing problematic turnover disproportionately impacting historically underserved students. When residencies provide living wages and design for affordability, they attract a diverse pool of teachers into the profession. Intentionally-designed residencies can also help meet immediate staffing and instructional needs in schools. Candidate enrollment in residencies is increasing, too—a particularly promising trend amid declining teacher education enrollments. In short, residencies offer a promising approach for recruiting, preparing, and retaining teachers, including those from underrepresented backgrounds, who help address persistent educational inequities in schools and districts across the nation.”

Source: Towards a National Definition of Teacher Residencies by Prepared To Teach, National Center for Teacher Residencies, Pathways Alliance

The USD School of Education was the first of the South Dakota universities to move to a yearlong teacher residency program, over ten years ago, and we’ve learned a lot from this process over the years. Here are some of the highlights of teacher residency in 2023:

Yearlong Residency
The yearlong residency model is a key component of the USD model. Students state that by getting the experience of being at a school for the beginning and end of a school year, they have more confidence in the overall expectations of a school year. From homecoming to graduation, they see every aspect of a school year during their time in residency.

Residency Instructors & Mentor Teachers
Every student in teacher residency is assigned to an experienced teacher’s classroom in a participating school district. That teacher is called the “mentor teacher” and they serve as a guide and support, and also offer their classroom space as a safe way to learn and develop as a teacher. The University of South Dakota also employs Residency Instructors, who teach courses in classroom management, among other topics, and supervise the students while they are in the classroom. Both the mentor teacher and the Residency Instructors provide on-going support to our students as they grow in their teacher residency experience.

New South Dakota Student Teacher License & Advanced Teacher Permit 
Many people ask if students can be hired as a teacher while they are completing their teacher residency. Prior to May 2023, the answer was no. But new South Dakota licenses are now available for teacher residents, which allow districts to hire teachers as the “Teacher of Record” while they are completing their teacher residency. Additionally, students are now eligible to be paid for their teacher residency experience, through the new Student Teacher License. This change comes in response to the surrounding states, which are paying students to complete their residency in their school district. The Omaha Public School District, for example, pays teacher residents $9,000 to complete their residency in OPS, which has increased the number of students who have selected OPS as their school of choice for teacher residency.

Learn more about Teacher Residency at

Jacqueline Wilber, Ed.D. is an experienced educator from South Dakota. She is currently a faculty member at the University of South Dakota and Director of the Center for Student and Professional Services in the School of Education.

She began her career in public schools in 2007 and has served as a teacher, librarian, and administrator. Jackie holds a Nebraska Teaching Certificate for 7-12 grade English/Language Arts, a Nebraska Public Library Certificate, and an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher (e-RYT 500) credential through Yoga Alliance. She was a 2014 Sioux Falls School District Teacher of the Year Finalist.