Highlights of the Report


Annual Report 2002 Contents | Brochures and Reports

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Introduction

The year 2002 was a celebratory year for the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute. It was the Institute’s twenty-fifth year of operation. It was the first year after completing a five-year National Demonstration Project, which had established new Teachers Institutes in Pittsburgh, Houston, Albuquerque, and Irvine-Santa Ana. And in this year we brought to conclusion our planning for the Preparation Phase of the Yale National Initiative, a fourteen-year project that aims to establish up to 45 new Teachers Institutes from coast to coast.

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 the United States. More than 60 percent of its public school students come from families receiving public assistance and 87 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 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. Meetings in school, often through the Institute Centers for Curriculum and Professional Development, enable the curriculum units to be shared at the same educational site. Both print and electronic publication make them available for use or adaptation by other teachers in New Haven, and by teachers, students, educational leaders, and the wider public throughout this nation and indeed the world.

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.

Through 2002, the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute has offered 155 seminars to 534 individual teachers, many of whom have participated for more than one year. (Please see Appendix for more information). The seminars, meeting over a five-month period, combine the reading and discussion of selected texts (and often the study of selected objects and aspects of the local environment) with the writing of the curriculum units. Thus far, the teachers have created 1392 curriculum units. Over the years, a total of 80 Yale faculty members have participated in the Institute by giving one or more seminars. Of them, 55 have also given talks. Thirty-eight other Yale faculty members have also given talks. At this date about half of these 118 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 Curriculum and Professional 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 (now the Wallace-Reader’s Digest Funds) and a supplementary grant from the McCune Charitable Foundation. In 1999 partnerships were established between colleges or universities and school districts at four sites that planned to adapt 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 enabled them to work with the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute for a period of three years, from 1999 through 2001.

In 2002 the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute continued to work with the Pittsburgh Teachers Institute and the Houston Teachers Institute, which applied for and received Research and Planning Grants for the Preparation Phase of the Yale National Initiative. The Preparation Phase, extending from April 2002 through October 2003 and supported by an extension of the grant from the Wallace-Reader’s Digest Funds and a two-year grant from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, looks toward the establishment of yet other Teachers Institutes across the country.

The two major sections of this report therefore describe the two complementary areas of activity undertaken by the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute in 2002. Between these major sections we have placed two briefer sections on the Institute Web-site and the National Advisory Committee, which serve both the local and national programs.

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The Program in New Haven

This section of the report covers the offerings, organization, and operation of the Institute’s 2002 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 sustaining of teacher interest in Institute seminars, as well as the content of the seminars that have been offered, the application and admissions process, the participants’ experience in the program, and the preparation for 2003. With respect to long-range planning and program development, it describes the maintaining of Institute Centers for Curriculum and Professional Development in the schools, and the preparation and distribution of Reference Lists that show the relationship of many Institute-developed curriculum units to school curricula and academic standards. It sets forth the structure and activities of the local advisory groups; and it outlines the process of local documentation and evaluation.

In concluding this section of the report, we describe the major event held on the occasion of the Institute’s 25th anniversary—a community-wide celebration of the role the Institute has played, and will continue to play, in strengthening teaching and learning in the New Haven public school system.

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 hope that its account of our local procedures may continue to prove useful to those who have established new Teachers Institutes in Pittsburgh, Houston, Albuquerque, and UCI-Santa Ana, and to those at other sites who are contemplating the establishment of such Institutes.

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The Institute Web-Site

The Web-site of the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute makes available electronic versions of the Institute’s publications—including the volumes of curriculum units and essays and other materials concerning the Institute’s work. (The address is http://www.yale.edu/ynhti/.) The Web-site is important for New Haven teachers; it played an important role during the National Demonstration Project, and it will be of further importance as the Yale National Initiative proceeds. The Web location has been advertised prominently on the cover of On Common Ground, which contains articles regarding school-university partnerships and is intended for a national audience.

The Institute has created a “guestbook” on its Web-site, in order to invite comments and suggestions. In recent years the site has been used by more and more people in many parts of this country and abroad—school teachers from both public and private schools (including Fellows from other Teachers Institutes in the National Demonstration Project and the Yale National Initiative), school and university administrators, parents, volunteers, university professors, high school students, graduate students, librarians, military personnel, home schoolers, local policy-makers, and others conducting research or having an interest in education. We estimate that from its inauguration in June 1998 through December 2002, approximately 2,200,000 persons have visited the Web-site.

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National Advisory Committee

The National Advisory Committee, composed of Americans distinguished in the fields of education, private philanthropy, and public policy, assists the Teachers Institute with the dissemination, evaluation, and development of the program in New Haven, the National Demonstration Project, and the Yale National Initiative. We summarize here its most recent meeting, on November 28, 2000, with President Levin and the presidents and superintendents (or their delegates) from the sites participating in the National Demonstration Project. This meeting was of major assistance in setting the direction of the Yale National Initiative.

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The Yale National Initiative

This section of the report summarizes the history and the accomplishments of the National Demonstration Project, upon which the Yale National Initiative is now being based. It then sets forth in greater detail the development, the process, and the current accomplishments of the Preparation Phase of the Yale National Initiative, with attention to the Research and Planning Grants awarded to the Pittsburgh Teachers Institute and the Houston Teachers Institute.

The report then offers accounts of the aims and the accomplishments thus far of the Pittsburgh Teachers Institute and the Houston Teachers Institutes. Those accounts are followed by descriptions of the National Advisory Groups, which continue as they had been established under the National Demonstration Project: The National Steering Committee (of teachers) and the National University Advisory Council (of university and college faculty members).

This section of the report concludes by setting forth the detailed and extensive processes through which the national program—including both the National Demonstration Project and the Preparation Phase of the Yale National Initiative—has been, and continues to be, documented and evaluated.

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Financial Plans

A final section of the report sets forth the current financial planning with respect to both the New Haven program and the next phases of the Yale National Initiative.

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