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New Teacher Fellows Program Determining Implementation

HGSE Senior Lecturer on Education Katherine K. Merseth talks to FM about charter schools, teacher unions, and the purpose of K-12 education.
HGSE Senior Lecturer on Education Katherine K. Merseth talks to FM about charter schools, teacher unions, and the purpose of K-12 education. By Connie Yan
By Gabrielle M. Williams, Crimson Staff Writer

Three months after announcing plans for a new postgraduate course of instruction and training for College students interested in obtaining a Massachusetts teaching certificate, leaders at the Harvard Graduate School of Education are determining the logistical details of the upcoming Harvard Teacher Fellows Program, as well as forging plans for expanding the model across the country.

The program will differ from other teaching-preparation programs in its inclusion of intensive and sustained field-based training to prepare fellows for classroom instruction and subject-oriented coursework, Ed School professor Jon R. Star, HTF’s interim director, said at a meeting for interested students last Thursday. About 20 students attended the event.

The program will launch next spring, with graduating members of the Class of 2016 as the first eligible to apply. Eventually, the program aims to accommodate 100 students at a time.

Those selected as fellows will begin their time in the program by taking a course during the spring of their senior year titled “Introduction to Schools and Teaching.”

Following the completion of the course, fellows will spend the summer after graduating from the College doing field-based training with a partner teacher at the Cambridge-Harvard Summer Academy. Fellows will participate in the same summer program a second time, following completion of a full year of instruction at the Ed School. While at the Ed School, they will also take continued coursework in their specified subject area—mathematics, social studies and history, English, or science.

During the academic year, clusters of fellows will be placed in participating high-performing urban schools nationwide, where they will be paired with a teacher and given a lightened workload, a strategy Star said would be beneficial for the teachers-in-training without compromising instruction for the students.

Fellows will receive salaries from their host schools, according to a handout provided to attendees of Thursday’s event.

Katherine K. Merseth, a senior lecturer at the Ed School and director of teacher education, said the format for HTF has the potential to be groundbreaking in the area of teacher education, not just for Harvard, but for other universities as well. She said she is currently thinking about how to expand the program to other universities.

“My end of it,” Merseth said, “is thinking more of, ‘How do we spread it? How do we get Berkeley to do it? How do we get Stanford to do it?’ and to create the movement.”

HTF will assist the fellows in networking to find employment upon completion of the program. Even after the HTF program is over, a fellow will have access to a designated hotline where they can call in for advising, mentorship, and general support.

—Staff writer Gabrielle M. Williams can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @GabWilliams23.

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