It started last spring in a meeting room at NYU, where a group of faculty members began to reimagine teacher education. It took shape in a Silicon Valley conference room where six professors gathered, sticky notes in hand, to craft a curriculum to prepare the next generation of teachers. In the fall, they shared their vision with their colleagues in NYU Steinhardt’s Department of Teaching and Learning, soliciting input, refining the learning objectives, and sequencing the courses.
Along the way, they abandoned the traditional 15-week semester, opting instead for a sequence of 10 modules, delivered one at a time. And from day one, graduate students will be in a school, possibly hundreds of miles away.
For an entire school year, students in the new program are embedded full-time in an urban middle or high school, working closely with teaching mentors on site and supported closely by NYU faculty working with roughly 15 students at a time. In 13 months, successful interns will graduate with a Master of Arts in Teaching from NYU Steinhardt — and the highly effective teachers among them will earn New York State certification.
“We wanted to join the national movement toward residency-based teacher preparation and have an impact beyond New York City. We wanted to work with partner schools to create on-site learning communities and break away from the practice of using university classrooms as the main site for teacher preparation,” said Ted Magder, vice dean of academic affairs at NYU Steinhardt. “In effect, we went online with our courses, so that our students could be in schools and classrooms every day of the school year.”
Magder and a team of faculty and staff have played crucial roles in helping NYU Steinhardt create its first three graduate degree programs that embrace the use of technology for learning. The team created ground rules for how these technology enhanced programs would work: NYU Steinhardt would maintain control over all academic decisions, from admissions to curriculum to grading, and all courses would be taught by the school’s professors.
Online Health Degree Programs
Two new health-related master’s programs, Counseling@NYU and Speech@NYU, went live this spring. By bringing the course work for these programs online, the school aims to give students flexibility as they pursue their degrees, with the programs starting three times a year and using some self-paced coursework.
Classes in these programs, which will be capped at 15 students, use 2U’s online learning platform to deliver the same curricula offered in Steinhardt’s on campus counseling and speech-language pathology programs.
The online programs also create opportunities for students to do their clinical work or field placements in their own community — and they don’t have to relocate to New York City to get an NYU degree.
“School counselors are needed to enhance the social, emotional, academic, and career development of students pre-K to 12th grade from diverse communities throughout the U.S.,” said Lisa Suzuki, associate professor of applied psychology and director of Counseling@NYU, an online master of arts in counseling and guidance, with concentrations in school counseling and bilingual school counseling.
Speech@NYU is designed to train aspiring speech-language pathologists — a career often ranked among the best for employment prospects — to work with clients of all ages.
“When clinicians work with clients in their own communities, it allows for the creation of long-term relationships and the treatment they provide is more inclusive and reflective of the specific health, educational, vocational, and social needs of those they serve,” said Erin Embry, clinical assistant professor of communicative sciences and disorders and director of Speech@NYU.
Both Counseling@NYU and Speech@NYU are accepting applications for their first classes, which will begin in fall 2016. NYU Steinhardt is also developing an advanced clinical doctoral degree in occupational therapy, expected to launch in 2017.
Teacher Residency Meets Technology
Teacher residencies have been shown to be effective in producing well-prepared teachers. The Embedded Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) marries the rigorous technology enhanced curriculum developed by NYU Steinhardt’s faculty with full-time residencies in high need urban schools. The program prepares students to become secondary school teachers in English, math, social studies, or science, leading to eligibility for initial teaching certification in New York State.
Using video observation and collaboration tools from HotChalk and Torsh, students will be supported and mentored by NYU faculty as they build their teaching skills, and will gradually gain responsibilities in the classrooms in which they work. They’ll also learn by working closely with seasoned teachers in their partner schools.
“Our goal is to prepare our interns to teach every single student in their classrooms,” said Diana Turk, director of teacher education at NYU Steinhardt. “That means they need to be equipped to successfully educate all of their students, whether they are emergent bilinguals, students with disabilities, or students without a history of formal schooling. We want our interns to be ready for the challenges and possibilities of teaching in high need schools, and the best way to prepare them to teach in these settings is to have them immersed, full-time, in these schools.”
The Embedded MAT, approved by New York State in March, is accepting applications for its first class. For the 2016-17 school year, students in the residency program will be embedded in Brooklyn Prospect Charter School and Great Oaks Charter Schools (in Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York locations). NYU Steinhardt plans to partner with additional school districts and networks across the country in future years.
Technology has already upended how we communicate and connect with others, how businesses operate, and how health care is delivered. By using technology to engage with graduate students across the country as they earn NYU degrees, students can remain in their own communities, or seek out areas of the country most in need of teachers and health professionals.
“Beyond this, technology creates an opportunity for learning. We are working to create a digital education research initiative to better understand what works and what doesn’t in digital education,” said Dominic Brewer, the Gale and Ira Drukier Dean of NYU Steinhardt.
Ongoing research projects will be focused on learning outcomes, teacher-student engagement, and best practices for online pedagogy – both working to improve the degree programs and learn what works in technology enhanced education.