Highlights of the Report


Annual Report 2006 Contents | Brochures and Reports
Contents of section:
Introduction
During 2006 the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute continued its New Haven program for the twenty-ninth year and carried out the Yale National Initiative to strengthen teaching in public schools, a long-term endeavor 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. 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. New Haven represents a microcosm of urban public education in the United States. Eighty-seven percent of the students in the New Haven Public Schools are African American or Hispanic. Because of the high proportion of students eligible for a free or reduced-price lunch, the district now has a universal free lunch program for all students through eighth grade.
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. The units are disseminated throughout New Haven schools and, in certain schools, through Institute Centers for Curriculum and Professional Development. Both print and electronic publication make the units available for use or adaptation by other teachers in New Haven, and by teachers, students, 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 2006, the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute has offered 176 different seminars to 613 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 or aspects of the local environment) with the writing of the curriculum units. Thus far, the teachers have created 1588 curriculum units. Over the years, a total of 93 Yale faculty members have participated in the Institute by giving one or more seminars. (Please see Appendix.) Of them, 65 have also given talks. Forty-four other Yale faculty members have also given talks. About half of these 137 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 online, 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. In 1999 partnerships were established between colleges or universities and school districts at four sites that planned to tailor the Institute's approach to local needs and resources. Implementation grants were awarded to four new Teachers Institutes -- including Pittsburgh (Chatham College and Carnegie Mellon University) and Houston (University of Houston). These grants enabled them to work with the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute for an initial period of three years, from 1999 through 2001.
In 2002-03 the Institute's work on the national level was notably assisted by an extension of the support for the National Demonstration Project which 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 the basis for membership in a new League of Teachers Institutes. 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, and culminated in 2004 with the announcement of the Yale National Initiative to strengthen teaching in public schools in states throughout the country.
In 2005-06 ten cities in nine states began participating in the National Initiative. These included three cities that already had Teacher Institutes -- New Haven, Houston, and Pittsburgh -- and seven cities that the Initiative had targeted for their potential to establish a new Teachers Institute. Superintendents of public schools in these seven cities nominated teachers to become Yale National Fellows who would participate in national seminars led by faculty members experienced in the Institute approach. In this way teachers might learn first-hand about that approach and might become leaders in exploring the creation of a Teachers Institute for their home community. Although they meet on a compressed schedule, the national seminars have the same expectations as New Haven Institute seminars. In this way, the National Initiative undertook an annual series of activities: an Organizational Session of the seminars that National Fellows attend each May; an Intensive Session of seminars for two weeks each July, which Institute directors and college and university faculty members from participating cities also attend; and an Annual Conference each October where school officials learn more about the Institute approach from National Fellows, national seminar leaders, and other faculty.
The present report focuses on the activity undertaken by the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute in 2006. Extensive material on the National Initiative is available on the Initiative Web site.

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The Program in New Haven
This section of the report covers the offerings, organization, and operation of the Institute's 2006 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. Here the report documents 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 2007 offerings. It describes the maintaining of Institute Centers for Curriculum and Professional Development in several schools and the continuing involvement of new teachers as Fellows. 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 in other communities who are contemplating the establishment of such Institutes.
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The New Haven and National Web Sites
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, reports and evaluations, essays and other materials concerning the Institute's work since 1978. (The address is http://www.yale.edu/ynhti/.) The Web site is valuable for New Haven teachers; it played a key role during the National Demonstration Project; and that role has grown as the Yale National Initiative proceeds. The Web location has been advertised prominently in the periodical On Common Ground, which contains articles regarding school-university partnerships and reaches a national audience. We estimate that from its inauguration in June 1998 through December 2006, this Web site has been visited by nearly six million different persons. Of these, more than one million visited during 2006, when the site registered some 7.5 million hits.
The Web site of the Yale National Initiative (the address for which is http://teachers.yale.edu) presents the curriculum units written by the Yale National Fellows who participate each year in national seminars; publications and video programs on the Teachers Institute approach; and news and other information about the Initiative and the League of Teachers Institutes. From the national Web site, teachers and others may search and comment on the curriculum units written in national, as well as local Teacher Institute, seminars.
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