In designing and implementing our teacher education curricula, we have drawn on our faculty’s extensive experience as Pre-K-12 teachers, our years as teacher educators, our close working relationships with current teachers and principals in the New York City schools, and feedback from our graduates. Each program integrates practical experience and hands-on knowledge with a rich theoretical understanding of how children learn and how they can best be taught.
Our department also offers a master's program in environmental conservation education, which does not lead to teacher certification. It is designed for college graduates and career changers who come from a variety of backgrounds and seek to educate children, families, adults, and the general public about environmental conservation and sustainability.
A Foundation for Teacher Education
The introductory course for all of our programs that lead to initial teacher certification, Inquiries into Teaching and Learning, sets a conceptual foundation for our approach to teacher education. This course assists each prospective teacher to reflect on his or her own educational autobiography and philosophy. It creates a dialogue between the learner’s own prior educational experience, the experiences of other learners who are students in the New York City public schools where all Inquiries students are offered substantial opportunities for observation, and the foundational research-based literature of the study of education.
Inquiries into Teaching and Learning is designed to allow our students the space and time to raise questions and consider alternatives as they participate in the dialogue and as they refine their core philosophy while engaging deeply with the philosophies and experiences of a wide range of other scholars, teachers, and students.
Most of the courses that students take prior to the student teaching experience have a participant/observation requirement that sends learners into schools to ground the theoretical reading and discussions in observing the real world of schools. This combination allows students to test their emerging conceptions of teaching in actual practice, and makes the transition to their own student teaching classroom easier and more productive. The on-campus courses also focus on issues of curriculum development, classroom management, assessment, and the use of technology, so that all of our graduates are prepared to step into the high-pressure world of standards and high-stakes tests.
In addition to the pedagogical core requirements for all programs, which include background in multicultural education, language and literacy, and special education, each curriculum also enables our future teachers to deepen and enrich their background in the fields they will be teaching. Our discipline-based courses integrate content and pedagogical approaches so that we simultaneously consider an aspect of the subject—history, mathematics, science, literature, and so on—and how it could be most effectively taught.
Further Education for Experienced Educators
For teachers who already have initial certification, the Department of Teaching and Learning also offers a full range of courses leading to MA degrees and professional certification in areas such as English, foreign languages, mathematics, science education, social studies, and early childhood and childhood education.
The department has developed other programs that lead to the state’s category of initial/professional certification. A particularly exciting program is our curriculum for those seeking to become literacy specialists in either elementary or secondary schools. These MA degrees allow teachers either to deepen and enrich their professional knowledge in the field they are already certified in, or to add a second certification in such areas as literacy, special education, teaching English to speakers of other languages, or bilingual education.