Highlights of the Report


Annual Report 2003 Contents | Brochures and Reports
Contents of section:
Introduction
During 2003 the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute continued its New Haven program for the twenty-sixth year while preparing for the Yale National Initiative to strengthen teaching in public schools, a long-term effort to establish up to 45 new Teachers Institutes throughout the United States.
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. Eighty-five percent of the students in the New Haven Public Schools are African American or Hispanic, and two thirds (67 percent) of the district's students are eligible for the free or reduced-price lunch program. 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 2003, the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute has offered 160 seminars to 557 individual teachers, many of whom have participated for more than one year. (Please see Appendix for a list of the Fellows.) 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 1438 curriculum units. Over the years, a total of 83 Yale faculty members have participated in the Institute by giving one or more seminars. (Please see Appendix.) Of them, 57 have also given talks. Forty other Yale faculty members have also given talks. At this date about half of these 123 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 Foundation) 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 2003 the Institute's work on the national level was notably assisted by an extension of the support for the National Demonstration Project by the Wallace Foundation and a grant for 2002-2003 by the Jessie Ball duPont Fund. This support enabled the two-year Preparation Phase of the Yale National Initiative to be brought to completion. The Preparation Phase included Research and Planning Grants for the Pittsburgh Teachers Institute and the Houston Teachers Institute, which have significantly contributed to the evaluation of the Teachers Institute approach. The Preparation Phase enabled the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute to collate and analyze data from the questionnaires and surveys conducted during the National Demonstration Project, establish a Web site for the Yale National Initiative, and prepare the "Understandings" and "Necessary Procedures" that serve as basis for membership in a new League of Teachers Institutes. Finally, the Preparation Phase made possible a summary evaluation of the National Demonstration Project by Rogers M. Smith and other researchers at the University of Pennsylvania.
The two major sections of this report therefore describe the two complementary areas of activity undertaken by the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute in 2003. Between these major sections we have placed a briefer section on the Institute Web site, which served both the local and national programs before the launch of an additional site specifically for the Yale National Initiative in 2004.
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The Program in New Haven
This section of the report covers the offerings, organization, and operation of the Institute's 2003 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 2004 offerings. 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 online publication 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.
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, 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 has assumed 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 Web site of the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute may also now be accessed through the Web site of the Yale National Initiative, the address for which is http://teachers.yale.edu.
The Institute has created a "guestbook" on its Web site, in order to invite comments and suggestions. (The Web site for the Yale National Initiative also invites comments on individual curriculum units.) In recent years the site has been used by more and more people in many parts of this country and abroad-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 2003, approximately 3,000,000 persons have visited the Web site, 800,000 of them during 2003, when the site registered more than 5.4 million "hits."
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The Yale National Initiative
This section of the report sets forth the aims of the Yale National Initiative and its grounding in the accomplishments of the National Demonstration Project. It describes the process and the accomplishments of the Preparation Phase of the Yale National Initiative. It then provides a report on the documentation and the multiple evaluations of the National Demonstration Project and the Yale National Initiative.
This section then describes the League of Teachers Institutes established by this Initiative and provides summaries of the recent work of the Institutes that have joined the League: the Pittsburgh Teachers Institute and the Houston Teachers Institute. It then sets forth the modes of communication and dissemination that are supported by the League (including the new Web site of the Initiative), and suggests the means whereby Teachers Institutes may expand and achieve systemic impact. It concludes by describing how new Institutes may become members of the League or may become affiliated with it.
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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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2004 by the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute

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