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From its beginning in 1978, the overall purpose of the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute has been to strengthen teaching and learning in local schools and, by example, in schools across the country. New Haven represents a microcosm of urban public education in this country. More than 60 percent of its public school students come from families receiving public assistance, and 85 percent are either African-American or Hispanic.
The Institute places equal emphasis on teachers' increasing their knowledge of a subject and on their developing teaching strategies that will be effective with their population of students. At the core of the program is a series of seminars on subjects in the humanities and the sciences. Topics are suggested by the teachers based on what they think could enrich their classroom instruction. In the seminars, Yale faculty contribute their knowledge of a subject, while the New Haven teachers contribute their expertise in elementary and secondary school pedagogy, their understanding of the students they teach, and their grasp of what works in the crucible of the classroom. Successful completion of a seminar requires that, with guidance from the Yale faculty member, the teachers each write a curriculum unit to be used in their own classroom and to be shared with others in the same school and other schools through both print and electronic publication.
Teachers are treated as colleagues throughout the seminar process. Unlike conventional university or professional development courses, Institute seminars involve at their very center an exchange of ideas among teachers and Yale faculty members. This is noteworthy since the teachers admitted to seminars are not a highly selective group, but rather a cross-section of teachers in the system, most of whom, like their urban counterparts across the country, did not major in one or more of the subjects they teach. The Institute's approach assumes that urban public school teachers can engage in serious study of the field and can devise appropriate and effective curricula based on this study.
Now completing its twenty-first year, the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute has offered 128 seminars to 452 individual teachers, many of whom have participated for more than one year. The seminars, meeting over a five-month period, combine the reading and discussion of selected texts with the writing of the curriculum units. Thus far, the teachers have created 1,172 curriculum units. Over the years, a total of 100 Yale faculty members have participated in the Institute by giving talks or leading one or more seminars. At this date about half of these are current or recently retired members of the faculty.
The Institute's twentieth year, 1997, had brought to a climax a period of intensive development of the local program. That had included placing all Institute resources on-line, providing computer assistance to the Fellows, correlating Institute-developed curriculum units with new school-district academic standards, establishing Institute Centers for Professional and Curricular Development in the schools, and establishing summer Academies for New Haven students. In that year, while continuing to deepen its work in New Haven, the Institute began a major effort to demonstrate the efficacy of its approach in other cities across the country.
This effort has involved in 1998 the first stage of a National Demonstration Project, supported by the DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund, that has established partnerships between colleges or universities and school districts at four sites that will adapt the Institute's approach to local needs and resources. During this first stage, five proposed partnerships received planning grants and worked closely with the Institute in order to understand more fully the nature of its approach. Four new Teachers Institutes-in Pittsburgh (Chatham College and Carnegie Mellon University), Houston (University of Houston), Albuquerque (University of New Mexico), and Santa Ana (University of California at Irvine)-then received implementation grants that will allow them to work with the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute over the next three years.
The two major sections of this report therefore describe what are now the two complementary areas of activity for the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute.
The Institute began a major effort to demonstrate the efficacy of its approach in other cities across the country.
|The Program in New Haven
This section of the report covers the offerings, organization, and operation of the Institute's 1998 program for the New Haven teachers who participated as Fellows. It draws extensively upon the evaluations written by Fellows and seminar leaders at the conclusion of their participation.
The report here documents the increasing teacher interest in Institute seminars, the content of the seminars that have been offered, the application and admissions process, the participants' experience in the program, and the preparation for 1999. With respect to long-range planning and program development, it describes the continuing progress in establishing Institute Centers for Professional and Curricular Development in the schools, placing more Institute resources on-line, and providing computer assistance to the Fellows. It sets forth the structure and activities of the local advisory groups; and it outlines the process of local documentation and evaluation.
We hope that this section of the report will be of interest to all those who assist in supporting, maintaining, and expanding the program in New Haven. We also hope that its account of our local procedures may prove useful to those who are establishing new Teachers Institutes in Pittsburgh, Houston, Albuquerque, and Irvine-Santa Ana.
The report documents the increasing teacher interest in Institute seminars.
|National Advisory Committee
The account of the National Advisory Committee occupies a hinge position in this report because this Committee serves in an advisory capacity for both the program in New Haven and the National Demonstration Project.
|The National Demonstration Project
This section of the report covers the first of four years to be devoted to the National Demonstration Project that is supported by the DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund. In describing this Planning Phase, the report draws upon the evaluations written by school teachers, university faculty, and planning directors from various sites who have participated in the Information Session and the July Intensive (with its three National Seminars) that were held in New Haven.
The report offers a narrative account of the Planning Phase, including the recommendations made by the National Panel. It describes briefly the plans of each of the new Teachers Institutes for the Implementation Phase, and the plans for another July Intensive (with four National Seminars) in New Haven in 1999. It sets forth the national accomplishments that have already occurred and are expected to occur as a result of the Demonstration Project; and it comments upon the learning in New Haven that is also taking place. The report then explains how the Institute's periodical, On Common Ground, will now be used to disseminate the progress and the results of the National Demonstration Project. Looking toward the future, it points out the opportunity for further expansion of the newly established league of five Teachers Institutes.
This section of the report then sets forth the plans for national advisory groups, parallel to those in New Haven. It also describes the internal processes of evaluation by which the four new Teachers Institutes, in collaboration with the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute, will provide a continuing account of their challenges and accomplishments. It then notes the plans for an external evaluation to be commissioned by the DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund.
A final section of the report sets forth the recent developments in the continuing effort to obtain financial support for both the program in New Haven and the National Demonstration Project.
© 1999 by the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute