Milman Literacy Fellows Are Teachers’ Allies in TC Partner Schools

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Office of School and Community Partnerships

Office of School and Community Partnerships

Milman Literacy Fellows Are Teachers’ Allies in TC Partner Schools

The Milman Fellowship, launched in 2012 through the generous gift of Teachers College (TC) alumna Evalyn Milman, provides financial support for graduate students preparing to be leaders in literacy education.

“We choose applicants based on recommendations from departments,” said Catherine Hogg, Senior Instructional Specialist in the Office of School and Community Partnerships and supervisor of the Milman Fellows. “This year we asked for a few recommendations from departments and then reviewed individual resumes and did interviews.”

Milman Fellows currently work at four schools in Harlem: P.S. 36, P.S. 154, P.S. 194, and the Teachers College Community School (TCCS). Fellows are matched with schools based on their academic and research interests, as well as the specific needs of each school.

“Each year we select [the most] self-directed individuals,” Hogg adds. “My job as the supervisor comes down to checking in, being aware of school needs, and being a thought partner. At the beginning of the year we lay out goals. The school lets me know what goals they have for the year and then we set out specific benchmarks.”
Milman Fellows receive a ten thousand dollar stipend and six tuition points each year that they serve in this role. “We want to sustain students, especially doctoral students, for a longer period, so if the research is continuing we usually allow them to stay,” Hogg said. “We might ask to end our collaboration with a student if the school needs have changed.”

Third year Milman Fellow and Ed.D. candidate Alyson Rumberger has interned at the Teachers College Community School since 2013. She is currently assisting teachers in implementing literacy into the social studies curriculum for K-2 classrooms, which she has authored. She believes strongly that literacy and social studies content go well together: “When integrated, [social studies and literacy] can create rich learning opportunities for students. A lot of strategies that are taught in literacy like reading informational text, comparing sources, and using text evidence can be practiced and strengthened using the social studies content.”

Rumberger and TCCS teachers have constructed what they call “collaborative centers” that give students the opportunity to study documents such as images, maps, and articles that are aligned with the focus of the unit. “The structure of the centers gives students opportunities to strengthen their note taking, questioning, and synthesizing skills while having extra time to explore content,” explains Rumberger. “Students also gain independence as they are tasked with looking at many different sources for information and drawing their own conclusions.”

Recently Rumberger assisted second grade students in the completion of an NYC Over Time unit, where the students researched how transportation in the city has changed over time. Additionally, the students used a text set of five different accounts to do an in-depth study of the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge. The students then got to choose which New York City landmark they wished to research and paired it with a visual representation and informational text about its evolution over time.

“This offered students a chance to strengthen their researching skills and engagements with texts while also integrating art and offering them a choice in how to design the project,” she notes.

Another fellow, Ed.D candidate Jamie Uva, works across all three elementary schools that are part of TC’s REACH (Raising Educational Achievement Coalition of Harlem), assisting teachers with data collection and analysis. Uva says that part of her job is making the buzzwords ‘data-driven instruction’ less daunting for teachers.

“Data-driven instruction is something that has become very scary,” Uva says. “It comes with a lot of fear linked to evaluation and standardized testing, but I truly believe that as teachers we collect data every day, all the time, through the structures that are already in place. The data that we collect can tell us how to support students not only in the classroom, but in their overall education.”

Uva, who is also in the third year of the Fellowship, says that her role has changed over the years. She has worked to help schools get their interim assessments up and running, been a data coach, and facilitated professional development. She says that data analysis involves getting an overall sense of how students do as a whole group, celebrating what goes well, and figuring out how to teach and re-teach certain curriculum areas.

“We are moving toward using data analysis to inform teaching practices. Data provides us structures for giving tests and analyzing planning and practices,” she concludes.

As with any other experience, Rumberger and Uva have also met setbacks. For Uva, the greatest challenge has been in learning to coordinate with people in the schools while helping them meet the various demands and every day obstacles that naturally arise, while Rumberger has found it difficult to narrow down units because of the vast, eclectic resources available in New York City.

Despite these issues, both women feel lucky and privileged to be Milman Fellows and to work with schools in Harlem. Both are grateful that their supporters have been wonderful “thought partners” and “collaborators” throughout their journeys.

“Working with Evalyn has been a great experience,” reflects Rumberger. “She challenges me to think about integrating the arts and technology more seamlessly into what I am doing and she is involved with our projects and stays in contact to hear updates about our work. She is an amazing model for what it means to give back to the community.”

Adds Uva, “I am feel really lucky to be at a university that is located in Harlem, that is working directly with schools that need support. I don’t think all schools have that and I am happy that the [Office of School and Community Partnerships] is committed.”

Published Monday, Mar. 7, 2016