In June, we proposed a brand new, very small Graduate School of Education to the MA Board of Higher Education. It's a 500 page proposal that lays out all sorts of details. There are 4 steps to the process.
a. Initial review by Higher Ed Staff b. Review by a committee of others in that field, who then make a recommendation to the Commissioner c. Commissioner review d. Board votes up or down
This takes several months.
So what are some of the courses we'd offer? Ed Schools typically require future teachers to take 1 or 2 courses called "Methods."
Our approach is a highly specialized Methods course. It's tailored to the schools where our graduates will teach: "No Excuses" style charter and turnaround schools.
Perhaps our methods would work well in most schools (I think so). Perhaps not. But since we're a boutique operation, we can pose a narrower question. What is expected of teachers in urban charter and turnaround schools?
One example: Writing a clear Aim on the board is a teacher move expected in 100% of No Excuses charter schools.
It sounds easy. But it's not.
A MATCH teacher-turned-dean named Chris Dupuis wrote an email to teachers explained the concept in an email this morning.
Let's say you are studying atoms in a science classroom:
POSSIBLE AIM: Atoms
Do you think that's a good Aim? Chris doesn't.
This is more an agenda item than it is an AIM. It doesn’t show depth or rigor.
POSSIBLE AIM: Understand atoms and what makes them up.
What do you think? Poor, says Chris.
Better but still too vague. Do they need to know subatomic particles, quarks, forces, etc?
GOOD AIMS FOR THIS LESSON:
1. Identify the 3 particles that make up an atom.
2. Know the charges, masses, and locations of the 3 subatomic particles.
3. Explain how Electromagnetic and Strong Forces hold the atom together.
These last three tell students exactly what they should be able TO DO by the end of class. As a teacher/tutor, I can take these AIMS and paste them into a quiz for the next morning to see if students can still do these.
Furthermore, it tells me and the students what they DON’T HAVE TO DO. If we’re not going to go as deep as quarks making up protons, it won’t show up in my AIMS. Students will then trust your AIMS as their roadmap to success, recognizing rigor and depth through how you articulate them.
Traditional Ed Schools prepare teachers for many different environments. The good part is teachers could acquire general ideas about teaching which may be universal. However, it is difficult to choose specific teaching methods and then invest lots of time practicing those methods. Our approach lets us go deeper by specializing.