Teachers Explore 2016 Institute Seminars

New Haven Public School teachers and Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute seminar leaders—members of the Yale faculty—gathered to discuss the program’s seminars, application process, and curricular and professional development opportunities.

The following account was contributed by the program’s Josiah Brown.

Seminars on Shakespeare, Literature and Identity, Citizenship, Physical Science and Chemistry

On Tuesday, January 12, the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute held an open house for New Haven Public School teachers seeking to learn more about this program and its 2016 seminar offerings.  The Institute’s teacher leadership, including school Representatives and Contacts from across the district, hosted the event on the Yale campus for their colleagues working in both elementary and secondary grades in New Haven’s public schools.

The Institute is an educational partnership between Yale University and the New Haven Public Schools designed to strengthen teaching and learning in local schools and, by example and direct assistance, in high-need schools around the country.  Through the Institute, Yale faculty members and school teachers work together in a collegial relationship.  Established in 1978, the Institute is also an interschool and interdisciplinary forum for teachers to collaborate on new curricula.  Each participating teacher becomes an Institute Fellow and prepares a curriculum unit to be taught the following year.  Teachers have primary responsibility for identifying the subjects the Institute addresses.  The partnership is a way to support the district’s continuing effort to attract, develop, and retain additional effective educators as it builds capacity in a teaching force of more than one thousand individuals.

The open house followed representatives’ actions in the fall planning seminars to respond to the expressed needs of teachers, and of their students, in New Haven.  Colleagues discussed the rewards and responsibilities of participating as a Fellow, and ways that participation can support teacher development at any stage of one’s career.  The Yale faculty members leading the seminars each made presentations, followed by informal questions and discussion.

In 2016 the Institute will offer four seminars to participating New Haven Public School teachers:

• “Shakespeare and the Scenes of Instruction,” led by Leslie Brisman, Karl Young Professor of English

• “Literature and Identity,” led by Jill Campbell, Professor of English

• “Citizenship and American Democracy,” led by Heather K. Gerken, J. Skelly Wright Professor of Law

•“Physical Science and Physical Chemistry,” led by Charles A. Schmuttenmaer, Professor of Chemistry

Teachers interested in applying to one of these seminars should read the full description of the seminar that is available from school representatives, who recommend teachers to apply.  In addition to seminar descriptions, applications and principal review forms may be obtained from the representatives and contacts.  Printed copies of the Institute’s 2016 brochure (including the schedule) are also in schools.

Completed applications and principal review forms are due to the representatives by noon on January 26.  Seminars begin on March 1.  The Institute encourages interested teachers to speak with their school colleagues who are representatives and contacts.

Partnership’s Curricular Resources Online

Nearly two thousand curriculum units that Fellows, in collaboration with more than 100 Yale faculty members in some 200 seminars, have written for New Haven students since 1978 are available.  These materials address subjects from history, literature, art, language, reading and writing instruction to math, science, engineering, and health.  All members of the community are invited to use these curricular resources for educational, non-commercial purposes.

As detailed here, units that teachers developed as Fellows in four Institute seminars in 2015 are among those online at this website. (http://www.yale.edu/ynhti/curriculum/units/)

One-third of the 2015 Fellows participated in the Institute for the first time; others did so for a second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, ninth, or even in one case an eighteenth time.  Overall, nearly half of Fellows completed the Institute for at least the third time, developing their and their schools’ teaching capacity.

Teacher Leadership

Teachers serving as the Institute’s 2015-16 school representatives and contacts have been disseminating the curricular resources while canvassing colleagues’ suggestions for seminar topics the Institute will now aim to address in its 2016 offerings to meet teachers’ and students’ needs across the curriculum.  Additional Institute roles include those of the seminar Coordinators, a subset of the teacher Fellows who provide teacher leadership, help maintain collegial rapport within the group, and serve as an admissions committee.

Teachers Institutes are educational partnerships between universities and school districts designed to strengthen teaching and learning in a community’s public schools.  The Yale National Initiative to strengthen teaching in public schools is a long-term endeavor to influence public policy toward teacher professional development, in part by establishing exemplary Teachers Institutes in underserved school districts in states throughout the country.  The Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute, a permanently endowed academic unit of Yale University, is in its 39th year.

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