Highlights of the Report


Annual Report 1999 Table of Contents | Brochures and Reports

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Introduction

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-second year, the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute has offered 136 seminars to 471 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 1,236 curriculum units. Over the years, a total of 71 Yale faculty members have participated in the Institute by giving one or more seminars. Forty-four of them have also given talks. Thirty-three other Yale faculty members have also given talks. At this date about half of these 104 participants 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 involved in 1998 the planning stage of a National Demonstration Project, supported by the DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund, that has now established partnerships between colleges or universities and school districts at four sites that are adapting the Institute's approach to local needs and resources. Implementation grants were awarded to 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). These grants make it possible for them to work with the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute over a period of three years, from 1999 through 2001. 

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.

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The Program in New Haven

This section of the report covers the offerings, organization, and operation of the Institute's 1999 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 Curriculum and Professional Development in the schools, placing more Institute resources online, 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 have now established new Teachers Institutes in Pittsburgh, Houston, Albuquerque, and UCI-Santa Ana.

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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.

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The National Demonstration Project

This section of the report covers the second of four years to be devoted to the National Demonstration Project that is supported by the DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund. It begins by describing the roles played by the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute in this Project. It then describes the first year of common work in which all five of the Teachers Institutes have been engaged. In doing so, it draws upon evaluations written by school teachers, university faculty, and directors from the four new Teachers Institutes who participated in the Orientation Session, the July Intensive Session (with its four National Seminars), and the First Annual Conference in October-all of which were held in New Haven. It also describes the establishment of the National Steering Committee and the National Faculty Advisory Council, groups that are parallel to those in New Haven. 

The report then describes the accomplishments of each of the four new Teachers Institutes. It sets forth the national accomplishments that have already occurred and are expected to occur. It comments upon the learning in New Haven that is also taking place as a result of the National Demonstration Project. And it describes the ways in which the progress and the results of that Project are being disseminated and explains how the Institute's periodical, On Common Ground, will contribute to this effort. 

The report then describes the internal and external processes through which the National Demonstration Project is being evaluated. Internal evaluations are being conducted by the four new Teachers Institutes and by the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute as monitor of the Grant from the DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund. These evaluations are providing a continuing account of the challenges and accomplishments of the Demonstration Project. The external evaluation, which is proceeding in collaboration with the internal evaluations, is being conducted by Policy Studies Associates, commissioned by the Fund to perform this task. 

Looking toward the future, the report then points out the opportunity for further expansion of the newly established league of five Teachers Institutes.

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Financial Developments

A final section of the report sets forth the recent developments in the continuing effort to obtain financial support for both the New Haven program and the National Demonstration Project.

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