A Teaching Fellows Makeover

Do you ever look at your wardrobe and realize it is slightly out of date? Or maybe you never go shopping and suddenly realize that your clothes have gotten so old they no longer reflect who you are or how you see yourself. You are the only person rocking baggy jeans and square-toed shoes.

It can happen to the best of us. We recently realized that the websites for our Teaching Fellows programs had reached their own fashion crisis. We had revolutionized how we train our teachers, yet were still dressing our programs in the same old clothes.

Today, we’re proud to say we’ve cleaned out the closet. With a brand new website, we’re showing what makes our training unique—and what we find so inspiring about teaching.

What brought us to our senses?

We’ve been training teachers for 12 years. Since we started, our Teaching Fellows programs have trained more than 32,000 talented people to teach in some of America’s most disadvantaged public schools. They’ve turned mechanical engineers into math teachers, put pre-med grads in chemistry classrooms and made bilingual teachers of corporate lawyers. Today, they operate in more than a dozen cities and hold the highest standards of any teacher preparation program in the nation.

But we measure our work in more than numbers. We look to the talents and skills of the teachers we train, and the vision that they bring to the classrooms where they work.

Every day, in schools from the Bronx to Chicago’s South Side to New Orleans, Teaching Fellows are changing lives. They’re teaching algebra and science and special education. But they’re also teaching pride, resilience, integrity and grit.

That’s what our website celebrates: the challenge of teaching, and the fullness of its impact.

This sort of transformational teaching doesn’t happen overnight. It requires rigorous preparation and a lot of hard work. Unlike many programs, which offer ideas and inspiration but leave little time for hands-on skill-building, our training is centered around actual teaching experience and focused practice on core skills, such as creating a positive classroom culture and keeping students engaged as they master complex material.

From their very first day, Fellows stand up and deliver instruction to classes of their peers before quickly moving into real summer school classrooms with real students. We don’t discuss classroom management in the abstract; instead, Fellows study and employ specific, proven techniques in front of one another and their coaches, who watch closely, offer detailed feedback and ask them to practice it again (and again, and again), until they get it right.

This approach sets our teachers up for immediate success and rapid growth. Just as a great musician can improvise because she has mastered scales and chords, our Fellows start their careers ready to think creatively about curriculum and instruction because they enter classrooms with a repertoire of proven teaching techniques that typically take new teachers years to learn.

That alone is not enough, of course. During their critical first year of teaching, we follow up with expert coaching, providing in-the moment guidance and suggesting concrete development strategies. Our Fellows always know how they are doing and exactly what they need to do to improve, whether they are struggling with lesson planning or striving to help students develop robust critical thinking skills. By the end of the year, Fellows must demonstrate mastery of essential teaching skills and a consistent ability to help their students learn and thrive in order to earn certification.

Teaching is a many things: a challenge, a joy and, most importantly, a privilege. By setting this high bar and helping Fellows meet it, we ensure that all the teachers certified through our programs are capable of making a lifetime of difference for the students who need great teachers most.

Now, we just need to find more people to take up the challenge. Applications for our 2014 programs will open in October, so please share our new website and Facebook page with anyone you think has the dedication and talent to join the ranks of our Fellows. Just ask them: What will you teach?

Imali Ariyarathne, seventh-grade teacher at Langston Hughes Academy, stands in front of her students while introducing them to the captivating world of science

Imali Ariyarathne, seventh-grade teacher at Langston Hughes Academy, introduces her students to the captivating world of science.

About TNTP

TNTP is the nation’s leading research, policy, and consulting organization dedicated to transforming America’s public education system, so that every generation thrives.

Today, we work side-by-side with educators, system leaders, and communities across 39 states and over 6,000 districts nationwide to reach ambitious goals for student success.

Yet the possibilities we imagine push far beyond the walls of school and the education field alone. We are catalyzing a movement across sectors to create multiple pathways for young people to achieve academic, economic, and social mobility.

Learn More About TNTP