2011 TC Pressroom
Teachers College, Columbia University
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New Teacher Institute Increased Support Allows Services to Expand in New York and Across the Nation

Research shows that recruiting the best teachers, preparing them at the highest levels, and assisting them through their transition into teaching has enormous influence on children. Teachers College created the New Teacher Institute in order to help do this. It is an intensive professional development program for new or early career teachers in New York City. "The next few years that presents us with an auspicious 'teachable moment' for schools and teachers," said Katharine A. Unger, director of the Institute. "This is an unprecedented opportunity to roll up our sleeves and help build teacher quality and capacity for the 21st century."

Thanks to the generous support of five partner foundations, the Institute is expanding its services to support teachers in New York as well as across the country. The partner foundations, including the Revson Foundation, Lowenstein Foundation, Starr Foundation, JP Morgan Charitable Trust, and the Clark Foundation, have joined hands with the Institute to provide a total of $1,345,000 over the next three years. The new funding allows the expansion of the program into TC's neighboring Community School District 5 in Harlem, and supports further growth and development on a national and international scale. The Institute is also being redesigned to combine the on-site, face-to-face interactions with Internet and distance learning components, as well as video, CD-Rom, DVD, and virtual, Web-based support.

In New York City alone, 54,000 of the total 78,000 teachers will be retiring over the next four and a half years, said Unger. This translates into a national need for more than 2 million new teachers to join the profession over the next 8 years. The program works to counter the negative effects of the 50 percent attrition rate of urban teachers in the first few years of teaching, said Unger. It also allows students to build relationships over time with well-prepared teachers. "In that first year cohort, we experienced a 90 percent retention rate of teachers who successfully completed the Institute and returned to teach their second year," according to Unger who developed the program and initiated the Institute's efforts in Community School District 32, in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn.

Due to the initial vision of the Center for Educational Outreach and Innovation's former director, Peter W. Cookson, Teachers College has been able to grow this program to support the successful transition of new teachers into the profession. "We believe that this is a necessary and bold step toward reclaiming the school system for children, particularly in urban areas," said Cookson, who is now the President of the Doris Dillon Center, a Center that distributes professional development programs for educators.

The Institute, housed within the Center for Educational Outreach and Innovation, is collaborating closely with the newly established Doris Dillon Center as it moves toward expansion and a national presence. "Empowering technologies will leverage the Center's ability to share the enormous intellectual capital of TC with teachers, schools, and districts far beyond West 120th Street," said Cookson.

The Institute provides a yearlong 'residency' program for participants through which they engage in regular sessions in their districts as well as in a virtual community. In addition to interactive on-site seminars with new teachers, district-employed school-based mentors work with new teachers on a day-to-day basis, and liaison with principals and other administrative and leadership personnel. "We are convinced that after a year of 'residency' at this Institute, new teachers will be better prepared to cope with the arduous-yet rewarding-task of educating those who need the best education," said Cookson. "This dual development model, simultaneously building the capacity of new teacher and mentors, is part of what makes the Institute unique."

The first group of new teachers-now in their third year of teaching-are the people upon whom principals depend for leadership not only in their own classrooms, but school-wide. Teachers from the first two groups have returned to the program to help their new colleagues. "After the first meeting," said Gaetane Smith, a new fifth grade teacher and participant from District 32's PS 384, "when we experienced the emotions that Kate mentioned, we didn't feel like we were alone-we knew others had been there, too." "With all the madness that can go on in public schools, new teachers need a collaborating program like this one," said Laine Ferro, also a new fifth grade teacher at PS 384. "It allows us the opportunity to talk and learn from each other."previous page