Can AI Help Train Teachers?

March 13, 2024
Teacher Preparation
Relay Graduate School of Education

From the SXSW EDU stage on March 4, 2024, Dr. Lequite Manning asked the audience to try something out. 

“I want you to imagine it’s the first day of school and your students need to know who you are. For example, I might say ‘I’m Dr. Manning, and I’m your math teacher’. Notice that that was concise, certain, and connected. Now you’ll turn to your neighbor and practice. Your neighbor will give you feedback…”

The room was soon filled with the buzz of educators kicking off their “classrooms” and making connections.

This experiment was meant to demonstrate a key point: teachers require opportunities to practice their skills in order to improve. This seems obvious, but it’s often missing from teacher preparation and professional development - or, teachers are only given limited opportunities to practice, without sufficient, targeted feedback to improve.

What if AI could help with that?

Dr. Mayme Hostetter, president of Relay Graduate School of Education, and Dr. Lequite Manning, the department chair of clinical practice, were at SXSW EDU 2024 alongside Lilach Mollick from Wharton Interactive (a project of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.) to show educators how AI might be helpful to supplement, not supplant real-live teacher preparation and development.

They demonstrated how an AI program could help early career teachers practice a key skill - building relationships with students. Through the program, teachers participate in a get-to-know you conversation with students, and then receive feedback from a “coach” on how to connect more effectively. The interactions are based on real conversations with students, and designed to help new teachers think through the “why” of making certain moves over others.

“There will always be a need for humans to teach and educate. We know nothing can replace an outstanding educator,” says Hostetter. “We hope Relay will be at the forefront of AI, shaping how it will be used to maximize teachers’ superpowers and ensure kids get the benefits. There has long been a “technology gap” for teachers, leaders, and students in underserved schools and communities. We want to make sure AI is used to close that gap, not widen it. We need to ensure that “ed tech” is an “education-first” endeavor.”

Curious? Want to learn more?

Listen to the presentation: 

How AI Can Help Teachers Simulate Success: Audio recording and panel description from SXSW

Find more details in Education Week:

AI is Coming to Teacher Prep. Here’s What That Looks Like, by Madeline Will, March 7, 2024

The Relay Graduate School of Education, an accredited not-for-profit preparation program with locations in about a dozen states, is developing several AI-driven simulators that will give prospective teachers a chance to practice interacting with students—before they actually set foot in a classroom.

“In order for a teacher to become great, they need high-quality practice,” said Dr. Lequite Manning, the department chair of clinical practice and residency for Relay, at the SXSW EDU conference here. “We see AI as an engine for getting more educators more opportunities for high-quality practice and feedback.”

But this isn’t meant to take the place of real, live student-teaching….. Read more

Relay Graduate School of Education

Relay Graduate School of Education is an accredited not-for-profit institution of higher education serving thousands of teachers and education leaders across the country. Our mission is to ensure that all students are taught by excellent educators, to build a more just world where every student has a clear path to a fulfilling life.


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