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Letter from the President

At Teachers College, our track record of "firsts" -'" new ideas that have changed the world -'" reflects an environment dedicated to both inspiration and perseverance. As our Provost, Tom James, likes to say, we were conceived of as a skunkworks, an experimental laboratory where creative risk-taking is a way of life. As a result, we have been home to more brilliant people tunneling away on issues of teaching, learning, physical and mental health, and the leadership of organizations than any other institution in the world.

What is the life cycle of an idea?

It begins when -'" perhaps thanks to new technology, new resources or constraints, or a shift in the political or social climate -'" someone looks at a problem with fresh eyes.

But just as important as that "Aha" moment is everything that precedes it. Like the proverbial shovel breaking through the tunnel wall, sudden insight nearly always results from sustained hard work. Scraps of knowledge are accumulated through repeated trial and error; chance leads are pursued; and only then is the puzzle is arranged for the final piece to fall into place.

 At Teachers College, our track record of "firsts" -'" new ideas that have changed the world -'" reflects an environment dedicated to both inspiration and perseverance. As our Provost, Tom James, likes to say, we were conceived of as a skunkworks, an experimental laboratory where creative risk-taking is a way of life. As a result, we have been home to more brilliant people tunneling away on issues of teaching, learning, physical and mental health, and the leadership of organizations than any other institution in the world.

Now we are dedicating ourselves to better positioning TC as a 21st-century institution that will continue to lead, educate, and innovate amid a changing technological environment and changing opportunities for professionals and scholars in the fields we serve. Our work on innovation -'" and all our plans for the years ahead -'" are supported by Where the Future Comes First: The Campaign for Teachers College. (See page 22 for a report on the significant progress we have made toward our Campaign goal of raising $300 million, and particularly toward our number one Campaign priority of funding scholarships for our talented students.)

Here are new approaches TC is taking to address some of the most important challenges today:

BRILLIANT PEOPLE: The College provides an environment that supports both inspiration and perseverance.

Reshaping stem education

To prepare a new generation for employment in the STEM fields -'" science, technology, engineering and mathematics -'" the nation must tap students from low-income, minority and immigrant families. TC has recently received nearly $20 million in federal funding to extend our work to meet that need.

 Led by Vice Dean A. Lin Goodwin, we have created TR@TC2, part of a nationwide effort to prepare teachers who will improve STEM achievement. TR@TC2 builds on our leadership in medical residency- style teacher preparation. Our students co-teach with experienced mentors, immerse themselves in education research and absorb the principle of universal design for learning and curriculum development, which calls for educators to create a pathway to understanding for each and every learner.

 TC is also spearheading the STEM Early College Expansion Partnership, through which our National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools & Teaching is increasing access and achievement in the STEM subjects for 22,000 high-need middle and high school students in Michigan and Connecticut.

By taking college-level courses, students are prompted to think about their college potential. Their teachers are guided by TC faculty members Christopher Emdin (science education), Ellen Meier (technology) and EricaWalker (mathematics education)in using innovative approaches to engage young people -'" for example, rap and hip hop to express complex laws of physics, or technology to help students collaborate in the classroom. This work, conducted in partnership with two other organizations, the Middle College National Consortium and Jobs for the Future, is supported by a $12 million U.S. Department of Education Investing in Innovation (i3) grant. It's the largest single federal grant TC has ever received.

i 3 for TC With prestigious i3 funding (the largest federal grant in its history) TC is preparing a new generation for employment in the STEM fields -'" science, technology, engineering and mathematics.


Global Mental Health

The 21st century is full of promise, but it has already been marked by war, natural disaster and epidemic. At Teachers College, Lena Verdeli and her Global Mental Health Lab are developing workable, cost effective approaches to help populations cope with the psychological and emotional fallout of these crises.

Dr. Verdeli, who has collaborated with academic and humanitarian groups around the world, is perhaps best known for successfully adapting a method called Interpersonal Psychotherapy for use by villagers in Uganda, where the ravages of civil war and HIV/AIDS left many adults too paralyzed by yo'kwekyawa and okwekubagiza -'" self-hatred and self-pity -'" to care for their families. Now, funded by the International Medical Corps (IMC), she and her students are working in Jordan, a country of 6.5 million people that has absorbed more than 640,000 refugees from Syria during the past three years -'" the equivalent, as Dr. Verdeli says, of New York absorbing more than the entire population of Vermont. The TC team is comparing standard interventions to comprehensive mental health services provided by IMC. The latter, while more expensive, could potentially prevent devastating and costly psychological consequences for people who may live for years under conditions of impermanence and uncertainty.

EXTENDING OUR TRACK RECORD The College is adding to its "firsts" with the launch of unique programs in learning analytics, creative technologies, Latino mental health and diabetes management.


Educational Data Mining

Interactions between people and digital technologies can generate valuable data about how individuals think, decide and learn. Hence the ability of companies such as Amazon and Facebook to suggest new books and other products that you might be inclined to buy, or of your laptop to anticipate email addresses that you frequently use.

The past several years have seen the emergence of a new class of teaching tools known as intelligent tutoring systems. These tools can recognize and tag sequences of keystrokes made by students as successful or unsuccessful attempts to implement particular skills. At the classroom level, they enable teachers to assess their students' knowledge and understanding on a daily basis and alter their instruction accordingly. More broadly, smart systems can aggregate data, offering a means to improve instruction and school management on a system-wide or even nationwide basis.

As the education community reorients itself to begin mining this wealth of data, a major challenge will be to produce researchers who combine technical expertise with an understanding of learning and human development. To that end, TC's Ryan Baker, Associate Professor of Cognitive Studies, has created a unique new cognitively based master's degree program in Learning Analytics.

Few figures on the education scene today are better qualified to lead such an effort. As a graduate student, Dr. Baker spent hundreds of hours observing K-'"12 classrooms to identify factors that either engage students' interest or lead them to tune out. He developed software that functioned as the first-ever automated detector of disengaged learning behavior. Funded by the National Science Foundation, he has since co-directed an eight-year study that correlates the choices that students made in high school using an intelligent tutoring system with their longer-term academic outcomes. He also has taught a 48,000-student massive open online course (TC's first such effort) and mined it for data about the pedagogical methods and technologies most responsible for successful learning and the challenges of retaining a large number of registrants.

In the Learning Analytics master's degree program, TC students will not only learn the latest algorithms and tools in learning analytics and educational data mining, but also how to apply them to real-world problems, informed by key theories of cognition and education. They will study relevant policy, legal and ethical issues involved in conducting analytics on educational data. And they will emerge uniquely qualified for 21st-century jobs at educational technology companies and startups, educational think-tanks and data groups at city and state departments of education.


Art and Technology

Technology is changing all fields, but perhaps none more dramatically than the fine arts. At TC, we have re-outfitted our sculpture studio as a fabrication laboratory, or "fab lab," with an array of digital and electronic tools that enable artists to make and activate new kinds of objects that give form and expression to ideas. As Judith Burton, Professor of Art & Art Education, put it at a recent TC symposium, "Digital technology extends our pallet of possibilities, offering fresh insights and nuance to the ways in which we make our worlds meaningful and solve problems."

TC is not alone in exploring those possibilities, but we stand apart in preparing teachers in the arts and other fields to interweave digital tools and materials into teaching that is playful, collaborative, entrepreneurial and multi- and cross-disciplinary. Professors Burton and Richard Jochum, together with doctoral candidate and Instructor Sean Justice, are fashioning a new concentration in Creative Technologies within our Art & Art Education master's and doctoral programs. Their vision is that art is about agency and that artists are creative entrepreneurs who fashion practical approaches to realize opportunities-'" valuable skills in every profession and every area of life. In broadening the nation's teaching focus from STEM to STEAM -'" that is, by adding "art" to "science, technology, engineering and math" -'" they seek to inspire teachers and students alike to apply a very wide range of imaginative approaches to the solution of everyday questions and problems. Thus our students will include not only studio artists but also teachers, principals and community outreach and development programmers. They will graduate into a New York City that is remaking itself as one of the nation's leading centers for technology.

Funding TC's Work A breakdown of the total grant volume for Teachers College in fiscal year 2014

Total grants in 2014: $36,794,921; New Awards: $28,907,439; Renewal Awards: $6,352,933; Supplemental Awards: $1,534,549


These are just some of the most striking examples of strategic innovation at TC. Others include:

Investigations of the potential of mindfulness and social and emotional learning to help young children be attentive and collaborative, which could dramatically enhance their ability to succeed in school.

Development within our Counseling & Clinical Psychology department of a unique program in Latino mental health -'" part of a broader effort to prepare psychologists who can realize Obamacare's vision of integrating mental and physical healthcare for populations in need.

A growing focus within our Edward D. Mysak Clinic for Communication Disorders on research-based treatment of aphasia, an impairment that affects speech production and comprehension and the ability to read or write.

 Pilot testing by TC Professor Charles Basch in New York City schools of a comprehensive approach to overcoming health conditions that significantly hinder the academic achievement of low-income and minority youth. Much of this work was initially backed by our Provost's Investment Fund, an in-house venture capital mechanism to launch promising projects and position them to attract major funding from external sources. Nearly 100 faculty efforts at TC have benefited from the Provost's funding since 2007, and several have achieved national prominence, including a curriculum that teaches high school students about the budget deficit and national debt, and the first online program to prepare nurses, pharmacists and other professionals in diabetes care and management. Meanwhile, TC faculty, leadership, staff, students and alumni continue to grapple with a critical question:

How can we better enable and support innovation -'" with the ultimate goal to sustain and renew our legacy of shaping new programs and fields and maximizing their success? One answer is by exploring the myriad possibilities to better serve thousands of TC alumni and other professionals with expanded professional development opportunities. Many faculty members are engaged in creating new certificate programs in areas ranging from mental health to global competency in education. We are also using new technologies to help alumni -'" particularly post-master's professionals -'" upgrade their knowledge and skills. Meanwhile, a new Chief Information Officer for the College, Naveed Husain, is strengthening our technology expertise and capacity on all levels. To enhance our practices and broaden our non-credit offerings and for-credit online courses and degrees, we've created a new position, Vice Provost for Digital Learning, to catalyze our digital expertise and strategic direction. We are developing a new intellectual property policy to encourage faculty to develop patentable or licensable products. And our newly created Board of Trustees Committee on strategic innovation is examining and discussing our institutional needs and goals across all these areas.

Every institution of higher learning worth its salt has brilliant people doing innovative work. At TC we are marshaling all our resources to advance our efforts and ensure maximum return on investment. That's strategic innovation that just gets better with age.



New Faculty TC hired the following new faculty members for Fall 2014:

Christine Baron Assistant Professor of Social Studies & Education

Noah D. Drezner Associate Professor of Higher Education

Lisa Edmonds Associate Professor of Speech & Language Pathology

Nathan Holbert Assistant Professor of Communication, Media & Learning Technologies Design

Patricia Martinez Alvarez Assistant Professor of Bilingual/Bicultural Education

Kimberly G. Noble Associate Professor of Neuroscience & Education

Brandon Velez Assistant Professor of Counseling Psychology

Ye Wang Associate Professor of Education for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing

Haeny Yoon Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education

Monique Lane Minority Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Published Wednesday, Mar. 11, 2015


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