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What Do Teachers Need To Be Successful Here?

In partnership with Relay Graduate School of Education, we designed a summer of teacher training customized to meet the needs of students in our communities.

By Dinean Robinson and Molly Zeins

September 4, 2017

Teach For America Teacher Training

The New York regional institute prepared the next generation of teachers for the diverse education landscape of the most populous and influential city in our country. While working at six different school sites in Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx, our teachers developed the skills and mindsets needed to impact student growth and achievement through extensive and deliberate practice, content knowledge development, and connection to the community they served and their colleagues.

We hired more than 75 Teach For America alumni as seasonal staff members to lead in various roles at institute such as School Directors, Mentor Teachers, Lead Mentor Teachers, Managers of School Operations, and Operations Coordinators.

“What do teachers need in order to be successful here?” That was the driving question as we designed and planned our New York City regional institute. Being a teacher in New York City necessitates an understanding of the history of New York, deep content knowledge (focused around the common core), and an ability to navigate the complex educational pathways available to students and families to expand opportunities. It requires teachers to be able to build relationships with co-teachers, people doing similar work in community-based organizations, families, and other stakeholders that influence our students’ lives. We believe that in order to be successful our corps members need a combination of rigorous and ongoing instructional training as well as leadership development focused on increasing their awareness of the issues facing the students they serve.

Teach For America New York

Corps members began their graduate program early, taking classes over the summer with Relay faculty that they could then apply immediately in their classrooms. Perhaps the biggest innovation came in the form of real-time coaching. Corps members had a Mentor Teacher in the classroom with them every moment of every day, providing coaching in real-time and modeling parts of the lessons that might be particularly tricky for a new teacher. Additionally, corps members engaged in diversity, equity, and inclusion training through Teaching for Educational Equity (TEE) seminars led by full-time Teach for America Directors of Programs, who will become their full-time TFA coaches in the fall.

Because of the direct coaching provided, 90 percent of corps members agreed or strongly agreed that the observations and debrief conversations they are receiving are helpful to their development as a teacher. While we are still gathering information on the impact that working at institute has had on the alumni who joined us as seasonal staff, it is safe to say that this summer was a tremendous learning experience for not only our corps members, but our alumni too.