Our first priority is to students in New York City high-need public schools, who will be learning and growing under the guidance of teachers we prepare.
Our second priority is to the teachers whom we prepare. From their first days, we work to ensure that, upon completion of the program, Teaching Residents will enter their first classrooms as well-prepared beginning teachers who are ready for the complex realities of teaching and learning in classrooms and invested in ongoing professional learning.
In maintaining these priorities, TR@TC is guided by the larger Teachers College conceptual framework for teacher education programs, which emphasizes inquiry, curriculum, and social justice. With these overarching concepts in mind, we embrace a philosophy of inclusive education, seeking to prepare teachers of all students in schools.
TC’s three philosophical stances were developed by teacher education faculty at Teachers College and have been uniformly adopted across the institution. The core of this philosophy envisions teachers as:
This framework defines how TR@TC approaches the skills and mindsets that well-prepared beginning teachers need in order to meet the needs of students in their classrooms.
Our inquiry stance is grounded in the practice of inviting students to engage consciously and critically in exploring how and why institutional structures and society are the way that they are. This process of raising consciousness includes the work of taking on a questioning mindset that challenges students to look deep into their own beliefs and experiences with schools and society. It also includes honing skills of critical analysis and question posing so that, as teachers, they are able to learn from students through an iterative process that includes careful observation, data collection, reflection, active responsiveness.
This stance is first grounded in the assumption that there are different ways of knowing, and that within school settings, teachers need to consider whose knowledge is included and who makes the decisions for including that knowledge. This is the base on which teachers build an understanding of inclusivity -- the importance of drawing in all students by developing multiple access points that enable each of them to engage fully and meaningfully in the curriculum in the classroom.
In TR@TC, this process includes a focus on developing skills and knowledge around curriculum development through a backward design model that emphasizes thinking and careful planning, as well as universal design for learning that begins with the premise that all learners are inherently diverse and therefore curriculum needs to be responsive to diversity from the start.
Our social justice stance begins with the recognition that a teacher’s role is to meet the needs of the whole child who comes to the classroom as a complete, complex being. The ability to do this requires the development of knowledges of cultural responsiveness, inclusive practice, multiculturalism, and emancipatory teaching. Taking on stances that incorporate these discourses includes holding asset-based views of students, families, neighborhoods, and communities. Also, this stance expects that teachers act as advocates for marginalized students and actively question and address inequities within their school contexts.
This stance aligns with that of Teachers College, whose stated goal is based on the belief that one of the key purposes of education is the evolution of democratic society through challenging and transforming social inequities. To achieve this purpose, educators must question taken-for-granted ideas about schooling and the social order and view themselves as change agents.