Bianka Mariscal with a student at Aspire East Palo Alto Charter School (Jim Wilson/New York Times)
After a one-year apprenticeship, new teachers learn what works in the classroom, reports the New York Times.
Aspire Public Schools, a charter system with schools in California and Memphis, pays teacher residents a stipend while they’re learning their craft. “Mentors believe that the most important thing that novice teachers need to master is the seemingly unexciting — but actually quite complex — task of managing a classroom full of children.”
At Aspire, where most students come from low-income families, residents spend four days a week in a single classroom working with a mentor from late summer through the end of the school year. On the fifth day, they take seminars, role-playing typical situations and deconstructing videos while practicing almost scripted approaches to teaching. If they complete the program, they each earn a master’s degree and a teaching credential through a partnership with a local university.
David Nutt, 26, a Dartmouth graduate who’d taught Palestinian fourth graders in the West Bank, started out in a high school science classroom, but struggled to learn the material while also learning how to teach. In mid-year, he transferred to an Oakland elementary school. That proved to be a good fit.
One March morning, Mr. Nutt jotted division equations on a white board and the students eagerly volunteered to check the work using multiplication. (Mentor Rebecca) Lee, who had gone through a residency herself, filmed him on a Flip video camera and an iPad Mini.
After school, Ms. Lee showed Mr. Nutt the videos. He realized he had dominated the lesson and needed to give the students more time to grapple with math concepts on their own. The pair worked on a plan to double the student talk time.
After his year-long residency, Nutt was hired as a third-grade teacher.
Bianka Mariscal 22, the first college graduate in her family, returned to her old K-8 Aspire school in East Palo Alto as an apprentice — and now a first-grade teacher.
Aspire pays “residents” $13,500 and spends another $15,000 on their training and benefits, reports the Times. It sounds like a good investment.
The U.S. Education Department is putting some grant money into teacher residency programs.