New Educator Conference Panels Look at Key Issues
Among several of the most interesting panels were ones by Professor Onore from Montclair State University and Professor Arthur Costigan from Queens College. Cynthia Onore, currently a Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching at Montclair State University in New Jersey previously served as Director of the Center Pedagogy at MSU. She created the Urban Teaching Academy at MSU, a program designed to recruit, prepare, and support new teachers for New Jersey’s urban schools. Dr. Onore saw that students expressed some concern where they would be placed for fieldwork. Montclair State University is located in a suburban community. “Our students were not choosing to go into urban districts,” said Professor Onore. There was a clear disparity between suburban and urban school districts in New Jersey. The Urban Teaching Academy was initiated to prepare pre-service students to teach in an urban environment. 20 to 25 students were in the program. MSU worked with a magnet high school in Newark, NJ named in the study as “CHS” to be the site where MSU students would do fieldwork and coursework on site. Students were able to interview people at CHS to learn about the urban teaching experience. MSU Students felt empowered to teach in an urban high school setting after being in the Urban Teaching Academy.
Professor Costigan presented “From the Inside: New York City Teaching Fellows Join the Teacher Debates.” In 2001, the New York City Teachings Fellows Program was introduced with much fanfare. Bright, professionals in their mid-thirties were being recruited to take a “fast track” into teaching in New York City Public schools. This group of “Urban Pioneers” were going to take their life experience and professional career experience and move into teaching in inner city schools. Professor Costigan notes that within a 5 year span, this program has evolved into what was a so-called alternative pathway to now it’s just another route into becoming a teacher.
In the beginning of the two year program, Teaching Fellows were told they were “special.” They got free books and lunches. But once in the classroom, the fellows were under a lot pressure to learn on-the-job how to become a teacher. Fellows would take coursework to get accreditation while they learned the dynamics of teaching. Fellows were given scripted lessons, and many became dissatisfied and left the field. The turnover rate was between 50-55 percent. Now the Program has shifted to a 3 year certification. Mentoring is available for coursework and classroom preparation and is considered one the strong elements of the Teaching Fellows Program.#