The Teacher Education Program at NYU Steinhardt

NYU is one of the world’s leading research universities. It was founded by Albert Gallatin, Secretary of the Treasury in the Jefferson and Madison administrations. Gallatin aimed to establish "in this immense and fast-growing city,” as he put it, “a system of rational and practical education fitting for all and graciously opened to all." He was inspired in part by the founders of the University of London, with whom he communicated. As they did, he envisioned a university inspired by and imbued with the intense activity and energy of city life and city commerce. He spoke of NYU as being “in and of the city,” but even then a city linked with other parts of the world.

In 1890, at a time of immense ferment in American schooling, and mass immigration to New York City, NYU opened the first university-based graduate school dedicated to the advanced education of teachers and school administrators. Thus NYU implicitly rejected what was then the prevailing idea – namely, that universities are not essential to the education of educators, that practical knowledge alone, rather than integrated practical and theoretical knowledge, is sufficient input for learning to teach.

Called the School of Pedagogy, the new school was the forerunner of today’s Steinhardt School, which remains the NYU home of teacher education. Over the course of the twentieth century, the School also became the NYU home of graduate and undergraduate professional education in media, applied psychology, physical and occupational therapy, nutrition, music, and the visual arts. All of these programs emerged from an initial focus on the learning needs of pre-collegiate youth.

Today, NYU teacher education spans many program areas and three Steinhardt departments: the Department of Teaching and Learning; the Department of Art and Arts Professions; and the Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions. At the same time, the NYU Teacher Education Program as a whole has a general pedagogical core, including a set of core courses and faculty communities of practice overseeing them; an organizational core comprised of a Teacher Education Council and Teacher Education Working Group; and five core values described below that derive from its history, as well as its ambition to meet the contemporary challenges of teacher education.

The NYU Teacher Education Program is fully accredited by the Teacher Education Accreditation Council.

Core Values
To be in and of the city and engaged deeply in New York schools.

The orientation to the city accounts for NYU’s successful efforts over the last decade to build a large network of partnership schools serving some of New York City’s poorest neighborhoods. This orientation also accounts for the emphasis across the program’s core courses and fieldwork on the role that even the poorest communities can play as resources for children, youth, families, and teachers. Finally, it accounts for how NYU discharges its obligations under accreditation by the Teacher Education Accreditation Council to educate teachers to be caring professionals.

To value content knowledge (disciplinary, interdisciplinary, and inter-professional), and also pedagogical knowledge as crucial for effective teaching.

The attention NYU pays to both content knowledge and pedagogical knowledge -- evident in the 1890 launch of teacher education at NYU – has continued to shape it in the century since. In 2004, for example, NYU established a university-wide oversight committee for teacher education called the Teacher Education Council. It is co-chaired by the Dean of Steinhardt and the Dean of the College of Arts and Science, and includes members of the Teacher Education Faculty, the Faculty of Arts and Science, and faculty from other Steinhardt programs which contribute to teacher education – for example, programs in the arts, in psychology, and in the history of education.

To integrate theory and practice pro-actively rather than expect students to do it on their own.

The third core value of NYU Teacher Education holds that it is not enough to give equal attention to content and pedagogy. Good programs must also help students integrate what they are learning in these areas. This value accounts for the extensive emphasis at NYU on well-scaffolded fieldwork, including field-based courses and seminars; and on maintaining a faculty whose members across ranks include both those with deep connections to practice, and those with rich experience in content and content research.

To promote intercultural openness as a tool for teaching – and in this sense to be in and of the world.

The fourth value - NYU’s promotion of intercultural openness as a tool for teaching - accounts for the recent development of cross-national programs at NYU in the teaching of Spanish, Chinese, and French; for an increase in the number of international teacher candidates; for study-abroad opportunities in teacher education; and for increased efforts across program areas to ensure that NYU teacher candidates gain proficiency in teaching English language learners. It also accounts for efforts across the program core and program areas to ensure that NYU teacher candidates acquire an ethic of cultural respect in the face of probable cultural mismatch between their own backgrounds and the backgrounds of increasing numbers of their students. Today’s NYU candidates launch their teaching careers amid the greatest mass migration of peoples and contact among cultures the world has ever known. Being “in and of the city” of New York, the city of immigrants, gives NYU a unique position for helping future teachers develop global competence within and beyond US borders.

To engage habitually in organizational self-scrutiny, and in the process to contribute to the knowledge base for effective teaching and teacher education.

Finally, the fifth core value of teacher education at NYU – the emphasis on data-based self-scrutiny and rigorous research – accounts for NYU’s active efforts to be accountable for its impact on its students and on their students. The inventive Center for Research on Teaching and Learning is central to these efforts. This value also accounts for the faculty’s many contributions to teacher education elsewhere also.

Today, as non-university teacher education programs proliferate, NYU remains an outspoken advocate of the important role that research universities can play in the education of teachers. NYU faculty are now studying how children learn science, how games can be used to teach science, how students transition to high school, how teacher management and teacher care co-mingle in classrooms, how schools manage discipline, how young black men progress through elementary and middle school years, how school-university partnerships function, how the learning of English language learners may best be assessed, how mathematics disability intersects or not with reading disability, and much more of great usefulness to the world.