Following a rigorous application process, 20 Harvard seniors will make up the inaugural class of the Harvard Teachers Fellows program.
Centered at the Graduate School of Education, the program was created to provide pathways into the education field for undergraduates interested in teaching. Since January, fellows have been participating in field-based training comprised of coursework and mentored teaching that will continue for eight months.
According to Stephen R. Mahoney, the program’s associate director, 27 of 32 students who submitted complete applications were offered positions in the first cohort. The application process included group and individual interviews, during which applicants were required to propose solutions to teaching dilemmas and demonstrate expertise in their subject area and commitment to educating youth.
“Teaching has to be a collaborative effort—it has to be transparent and shared,” Mahoney said. “We wanted to make sure we were bringing on young men and women who could listen to other people, take in different perspectives and respond to it in a proactive fashion.”
After completing the first round of training in August, students will train part-time in various public school districts and charter school networks for one academic year while continuing to be mentored by GSE faculty members. The program will culminate the following summer with additional mentorship and coursework upon which students will earn an initial teaching license.
Rebecca V. Park ’16, a History and Literature concentrator, said she felt fortunate and excited to have been selected. She said she appreciates the extended training that the program provides in comparison to other introductory teaching programs, as well as its commitment to education over the longer-term.
“I wanted to do this program because I feel like it’s really respecting to teaching and teachers… giving me the tools to be as prepared as I can be on day one,” she said.
Teacher fellow Grace A. Kossia ’16, a Mechanical Engineering concentrator, said she wants to become involved in education over the long-term, potentially in science, and the program provides the necessary preparation to enter the teaching profession.
She said that in addition to the long-term transition into teaching that the program provides, the diversity of the participants has added to her experience.
“Something that’s been really powerful in this program is hearing other people’s experiences and how that relates to their education; how that we can use that diversity of experience…to prepare us as we go into these schools that are serving a diverse group of students,” Kossia said.
The Teachers Fellows program allows Harvard to join many other schools in offering students an alternative preparatory program to organizations like Teach for America, which some student groups have criticized for not preparing students adequately to teach in a classroom.
—Staff writer Jesper W. Ke can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on twitter @jesper_ke.
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