To better align the University of Wisconsin School of Education’s curriculum with the Madison Metropolitan School District’s approach to education, the two have formed a partnership.

The first phase of the partnership, called the Forward Madison Initiative, will involve a comprehensive induction strategy. This involves a new teacher induction, instructional coaching and a principal leadership induction.

Beth Giles, UW education and outreach partnerships spokesperson, said the school district and the School of Education have been longtime partners, and this initiative will further tighten their relationship in their approaches to education.

The program is a comprehensive five-year plan which aims to maintain key teachers in MMSD while continuing their education strategy developments, Giles said.

“The UW School of Education is consistently ranked number one in the country. We do an incredible job preparing the best teachers in the country,” Giles said. “The teacher induction program will assist the new teachers in the MMSD be inducted into the community of teachers in MMSD and will assist teachers in a successful transition into the classroom.”

The partnership will eventually aim to increase the involvement of socially and culturally relevant topics into the curriculums of Madison schools, Giles said. As a research institution, she said UW plays a big role in incorporating these subjects in the curriculums.

The teachers, coaches, administrators and people working in the district have great ideas and are really grounded in research and practical application, she said.

Giles said the partnership is mutually beneficial in bringing together research expertise and practical applications. The teachers and administrators already have a great knowledge base and are looking to create something that blends their knowledge and builds something stronger, she said.

“Madison has great teachers already, but this project puts in place a pathway to bring the two together,” Giles said.

Rodney Thomas, special assistant to the superintendent at MMSD, said the collaboration with the university also aims to eventually increase workforce diversity.

An aspect of the initiative is an early exposure approach in which high school students will be taught about various professions in education and encouraged to explore those options, Thomas said. Reaching out to the diverse high school populations could eventually have the longer term results of diversifying the workforce, he said.

“Teachers are closest to our students,” Thomas said. “We’re extremely excited about the program and about the partnership and we’re looking to expand and grow along with UW in this partnership.”

Giles said the program seeks to encourage high school students to explore careers in education by instilling the role of a teacher as someone in authority figure for social change in the education of social and cultural issues.

The next step in the initiative in the upcoming months is for the project design team to work in the specifics of social justice and cultural responsiveness into the plan, Thomas said.