High School Visits Give Insight to Urban Teacher Residents

 Residents share their experiences after visiting schools all over NYC.

As part of New Visions’ Urban Teacher Residency (UTR), 33 soon-to-be teachers spent the day visiting classrooms in high schools across the city to begin the process of finding full-time teaching positions for the 2013-14 school year.

UTR is a 14-month teacher-training program that fully integrates the graduate coursework of aspiring teachers (residents) with intensive, hands-on experiences in New York City schools.

A collaboration between New Visions for Public Schools and Hunter College, the program places residents in strong public schools where they collaborate with expert educators around all aspects of teaching and learning.

“We’ve incorporated a formal process for conducting school visits to sites with UTR program graduates, so that our residents really get a broad perspective of different school cultures,” said Rachelle Verdier, UTR program officer.  “It gives them an opportunity to make comparisons to their current learning atmosphere and think about the type of school environment they’d want to work in after they graduate from the program.”

Upon joining UTR, residents commit to teach in a high needs school for four years beyond the residency.  Typically, 100% of UTR graduates are hired prior to the start of the school year after residency, with 95% hired before their residency year is complete (June).

After a day of visiting 15 New Visions schools including Bronx Theater High School, Knowledge and Power Preparatory Academy and Collegiate Institute of Math and Science, residents debriefed about their experiences. Here’s some of what they had to say:

  1. “Teachers split into grade teams and meet every day.  Because the teachers shared the same learning and teaching beliefs, it made such a difference in how they interacted with and taught the students in each class. It was almost seamless.”
  1. “I learned the value of a fully developed staff today. In most schools people are usually overextended and have to wear multiple hats which can detract from the cohesion but it was great to see everyone working in their specific role and being able to focus on doing their tasks well.”
  1. “Coming from a large school, I never really saw the benefit in small schools, but today it was amazing to see that every teacher knew what each other was teaching in his/her respective class, regardless of subject.”
  1. “I noticed that when teachers feel supported by colleagues, those relationships allow them to focus more on the quality of their teaching in and outside of the classroom.”
  1. “Visiting these schools gave me the confidence that New Visions is preparing us substantially and that we will be well equipped for teaching.”
  1. “I realized today that I shouldn’t be afraid to be more of myself in front of my class and take greater ownership over my classroom.”
  1. "It was great to see a school with passionate young teachers. They were all willing to go above and beyond for the benefit of the school and the students."

“The host principals and UTR graduates worked hard to craft visits that would help the residents,” added UTR program officer Marisa Harford.  “They wanted to give the residents a sense of the school culture, the joys and challenges of being a new teacher in their respective schools, and an overall sense of being part of the UTR network. Hearing the residents share what they learned shows us that the hard work put into the visits paid off.”

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