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Getting Smart Podcast

Mar 20, 2019

For more than 120 years, Boston-based Northeastern University has been known for experiential education. A third of the 26,000 enrollments are graduate students served by a network of campuses around the country and a thriving online program. Building on this tradition and footprint, The Northeastern Graduate School of Education has been rethinking educator preparation.

In this week’s episode, Tom speaks with two STEM graduates that became teacher educators and — with the backing of Northeastern University — are reinventing preparation. They are Professor Kelly Conn and Professor Cherese Childers-McKee.

Professor Kelly Conn has been with Northeastern University for the last eight years. She leads professional development pathways, including a cool program called NExT, which is a global platform of educators connecting practice to more innovative workplace-based learning. Professor Cherese Childers-McKee leads the new Doctor of Education curriculum (which results in a Dissertation in Practice at Northeastern University). The program is for practitioners that want to tackle real problems. It has a strong social justice component that encourages budding leaders to become change agents.


The two professors talk with Tom today and discuss their careers in education; their areas of focus; their ideas and thoughts around experiential learning; project-based learning, and student-centered learning; what and how they teach at Northeastern University; and much more!


Key Takeaways:

[:15] About today’s episode.

[1:33] Tom welcomes Kelly Conn to the podcast.

[1:37] Where Kelly’s love for science came from.

[2:26] How and when Kelly made the pivot to becoming a teacher educator.

[4:40] Cherese talks about what her early education was like.

[5:22] When did Cherese know that she’d be a teacher?

[6:28] What was Cherese’s area of focus at UNC Greensboro?

[7:36] What drew Cherese to the topic of race relations.

[8:40] Kelly explains where Northeastern’s long history of experiential education came from and what it means today.

[10:06] Kelly describes the framework for experiential learning and the design principles that are important to her and her colleagues.

[11:14] Kelly highlights some of the ideas that are well-aligned with the philosophy at Northeastern.

[12:44] Why project-based learning is so important.

[14:17] Useful design principles and approaches to project-based learning.

[15:18] About NExT — Northeastern University’s Network for Experiential Teaching and Learning.

[17:50] Will a certificate be available for Experiential Teaching and Learning?

[20:16] Could a school district or network turn this into a series of micro-credentials that could earn a certificate from Northeastern? And could these credentials stack into a Master’s Degree?

[22:27] How and why Northeastern is updating its approach to their EdD. program.

[24:55] With this program, will it be possible that several people will be able to work simultaneously on a problem, but take a different approach?

[26:26] What makes Northeastern University’s education degree programs so unique?

[29:52] What attracted Cherese to Northeastern University?

[31:26] How online learning with experiential learning work together.

[33:44] How this new dissertation and practice are different from how the program used to be.

[35:53] Cherese responds to a critique of Doctoral programs and explains how their program is differentallowing students to focus on important and relevant problems.

[38:24] Cherese talks about the potential of a team-based EdD., and the collaboration that happens currently at Northeastern.

[40:18] Is Cherese making an effort to encourage her Doctoral students to communicate their work earlier and in different ways than just a dissertation?

[42:02] Having come to Northeastern with interests in race relations and social justice, has Cherese been able to maintain a focus on these subjects and encourage other people to take up these issues?

[43:30] Tom and Jessica close out this week’s podcast.


For More on Reinventing Educator Preparation, Check Out:

Episode 188 with Jim Tracy of the Woodrow Wilson Academy at MIT!


Mentioned in This Episode:

Northeastern University

NExT | Northeastern University

Kelly Conn

Cherese Childers-McKee

UNC Greensboro


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