Frequently Asked Questions
1. How does tutoring help me prepare to be a teacher?
The tutoring experience is a foundational aspect of learning for future teachers. We believe this allows trainees to develop some intuitive understanding of "how kids learn" by separating out all of the complexities introduced when teaching 20 or more students at once. In particular, experiencing hard-won success with challenging students allows each trainee to realize that all kids can learn to high levels.
2. Which schools hire MTR graduates?
Most of our grads go on to Boston schools including Boston Prep, Boston Collegiate, Uncommon, Community Day, UP Turnaround, Cambridge Community, Phoenix Academy, KIPP, and others. Others go to New York City, Washington DC and San Francisco.
3. What percentage of MTR graduates get jobs?
4. How does this program compare to traditional graduate schools?
First, our program is context-specific. We're preparing you for a particular type of charter school or turnaround school. These schools, like the Match Schools, have the same college prep mission for inner-city kids.
Second, our team is essentially asking your permission to coach you; if you accept an offer to join us, you're granting that permission. We feel like we're in a race to prepare you so that once you become a full-time teacher, you're unusually well prepared. A traditional Ed School might be a better fit for you if you're looking for an intellectual exploration of lots of different ideas. In our program, it will be more akin to music or sports training you've gotten -- the coaching is very prescriptive.
Third, and no joke: our program is tough. It's entirely possible to do well in all the academic aspects of this program, and still not get a license or a masters degree -- you need to succeed with the actual students, measured in various ways. We want you to "know what you're getting into." But the program is not tough for the heck of it either. Many teachers in urban schools find their first year incredibly stressful. We want you prepared so that your first full-time year goes much better than normal.
Finally, practice, practice, practice. Whereas students at traditional Ed Schools spend more time writing papers and reading theory, MTRs spend more hours practicing the specific moves that make first year teachers successful. Again, this not unlike what you may have experienced learning music or sports -- practicing scales or left-handed layups.
5. How does MTR compare to Teach For America, Boston Teacher Residency, etc.
TFA is a great program. After summer training, you are deployed immediately as a full-time teacher. Our program invests a full year of training, with the goal of becoming a terrific new teacher. We tend to admit residents who are similar in mindset and academics to TFA. See here for more discussion of how MTR compares to TFA.
BTR is also terrific -- they're preparing folks for the traditional Boston Public Schools. Like MTR, you get a stipend while you train. There are other "urban teacher residencies" around the nation.
6. How does MTR fit into the Match Corps experience?
All MTRs are part of Match Corps. But not all Match Corps are in MTR.
For an MTR, the Monday to Thursday tutoring experience is the same as other Match Corps. You work with kids in one of our three Boston schools.
However, MTRs want to go on to become full-time teachers. The other Match Corps want to go to medical school, law school, and do a million other things after their service year.
So on Fridays and Saturdays, MTRs learn about the nuts and bolts of teaching, get hundreds of hours of practice, and receive high doses of expert coaching. The other tutors work with kids on Friday, and have Saturdays off.
7. I understand that the program is geared towards placing people in charter schools. But is it possible to teach in a regular public school? Is the training still effective for someone who wants to teach in another setting?
First, charter schools are public schools—despite some popular misconceptions, they do not select students, and they follow all the state and federal guidelines that apply to any other public schools.
Second, MTR graduates are expected to teach for 2 years in a school that serves majority high-poverty students. That’s the only expectation regarding school placements, so it is indeed possible for someone to take a job in a traditional district school.
With that said, our program is 100% geared towards preparing teachers for a specific type of urban charter school that tends to offer a very different experience for teachers and students than the surrounding district schools. Because of that, we strongly believe that our graduates will be most effective in these types of charter schools. We also have great relationships with charter school leaders around the country, which we leverage to help our teachers get jobs. We don’t have those same types of relationships with district schools.
8. Can you say more about the characteristics of these charter schools that make them unique?
- Longer school day and school year, combined with a “whatever it takes” ethic, to help students acquire the skills and habits they need to close the gap that exists between them and their peers in more affluent school districts, and ultimately succeed in 4-year colleges.
- Strong emphasis on character development through a relentless focus on building positive school and classroom culture.
- Feedback intensive professional environments; teachers in these schools expect to get lots of coaching and direction on everything from curriculum design, instructional execution, and professionalism norms.
- Constant use of assessments and assessment data to reflect on and remediate students’ progress towards meeting rigorous learning standards.
- College prep curriculum for all; little to no “tracking” of students based on their perceived ability levels.
- High expectations for parent/family involvement; teachers are frequently in contact with students’ families to discuss academic progress.
9. How many MTRs who start the program in August actually finish the residency component and go on to teach full-time?
We expect roughly two-thirds of the people who start on Day 1 to graduate the residency component of the program.
The one-third who leave mostly do so because they discover through their year at Match that teaching, or teaching in the types of schools that we’re preparing people for, isn’t for them. They don’t leave Match; they just exit the teacher residency and work full-time in Match Corps. Others exit the program due to performance struggles – i.e. they’re not developing fast enough as teachers, even after lots of coaching and training. These individuals also continue to stay at Match for the remainder of the year as Match Corps tutors.
10. How many of your graduates stay in teaching beyond their two-year commitment?
We’re still a very new program, so the data here reflects only a few cohorts of graduates.
75% of the people from our first cohort stayed in teaching for a 3rd year. 84% of our second cohort stayed for a 3rd year. 96% of the graduates from our third cohort returned for a second year of teaching.
Our number one priority is to make sure every graduate of our program is ready to succeed in the classroom right away. We aim to reduce the “trial and error” that usually characterizes the rookie year of teaching. We think that approach will have a positive effect on retention – i.e. teachers who are successful with their students are likely to stay in the profession longer – although we don’t exclusively focus on recruiting individuals who want to teach for their entire career.
Licensure & Degree FAQ’s
1. What is the teaching license that I can earn through MTR?
Middle and High School teachers can earn a Massachusetts “Initial” license to teach middle (grades 5-8) or high (grades 8-12) school Math or English. Elementary teachers can earn a “Preliminary” license to teach at the grades K-6 level. MTR is not yet approved by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to grant Initial licenses to Elementary teachers.
2. What is the difference between a Preliminary license and an Initial license?
The Preliminary license is the first of three levels of licensure in Massachusetts. It is good for 5 years, is non-renewable, and can be obtained with a Bachelor’s degree, passing score on the Massachusetts Test for Educator Licensure (the MTEL), and, in the case of Elementary teachers, a few additional coursework requirements. The Initial license is the second level of licensure. Like the Preliminary license, it is also good for 5 years (although it is renewable once for another 5 years) and requires both a Bachelor’s degree and passing scores on the MTEL. Unlike the Preliminary license, the Initial license also requires the completion of an approved teacher training program. MTR is approved to offer this license at the Middle and High School level.
3. Let’s say I want to teach History or Science. Can I do that through MTR? How would I get licensed in those areas?
MTR is only able to offer a student teaching experience in a Middle or High School Math or English classroom, or an Elementary classroom. However, we’ve had a number of graduates who entered the program with strong History or Science backgrounds end up getting teaching positions in these subject areas. It is possible to earn additional licenses by passing the appropriate MTEL subject matter exams.
4. Are Massachusetts licenses transferrable to other states?
License transferability is complicated (another reminder that education is run on the state and local levels).Massachusetts is part of something called the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement which means that there are a number of states that automatically recognize Massachusetts licenses. However, there are sometimes certain restrictions associated with “alternative” programs such as ours (“alternative” in contrast to “traditional” university-based programs).
For example, we’ve successfully placed a number of our graduates in New York City charter schools, but the state of NY doesn’t accept a license from an alternative program unless the candidate has 3 years of teaching experience. In this case, the charter schools where they were hired have a partnership with the Relay Graduate School of Educations that allows teachers to work toward NY licensure during their first two years of teaching. So these teachers had more preparation work to do, but the licensure mismatch didn’t prevent them from getting great jobs in great schools.
The bottom line is that while we cannot guarantee that your licensure will transfer if you move out of state (after first teaching in Boston for a few years, we hope), we can guarantee that your training will.
5. What is the MTEL and why do I need to take it?
All MTR trainees are required to take, and pass, the Massachusetts Tests for Educator License before they’re admitted to the practice teaching component of the program. This test is required to get a Massachusetts Initial License. Even if you ultimately don’t want to teach in Massachusetts, you still need to take and pass this test as a requirement for MTR.
You can find more information about the MTEL at http://www.mtel.nesinc.com
6. Which tests do I have to take?
- You have to pass two sections of the MTEL.
- The first is the Communication and Literacy Skills test, which is made up of two sub-tests: writing and reading comprehension. This test assesses basic literacy skills.
The second section is a content test. This test assesses your knowledge of the subject area that you’re preparing to teach.
- Middle and High School English teachers must pass the English content test (listed as Test #07 on the MTEL web site).
- Middle School Math teachers must pass the Middle School Mathematics test (listed as Test #47).
- High School Math teachers must pass the Mathematics test (listed as Test #09).
Elementary teachers also take another series of tests at the end of their year in MTR, but we’ll prepare you for those, as they involve more specialized knowledge about elementary teaching.
7. When do I have to take these tests? And how much do they cost?
MTR staff will help you register for the tests in the fall, after you arrive at Match. MTR will also reimburse you for all of the test fees.
8. Can I take the tests before I arrive at Match?
Absolutely. Just check with the staff once you are admitted to the program to ensure that you are taking the proper tests. We will still reimburse you for the fees.
9. How do I know what to study and how long I should study?
You can visit the MTEL web site to download test information booklets: http://www.mtel.nesinc.com/MA_SG_opener.asp.
In these booklets, you’ll find test objectives as well as a sample test.
That’s the best way to get a sense of what’s on the test – and your results on the sample test will give you a sense of how much you need to study.
There’s not one best answer about what to study and how long. It depends a great deal on the courses you’ve taken in college, your reading and writing skills, and your general test-taking skills.
We think 25 hours invested this summer and early next fall is probably time very well spent – for your "Subject" MTEL in particular (the Communications & Literacy test is less challenging).
10. What kind of test prep does MTR provide?
In the fall, we’ll carve out a full training day for MTEL subject matter preparation. We do not offer a structured prep session for the Communication and Literacy skills test.
You can also find some commercially available test prep guides to help you study.
11. What kind of benefits do I get from earning the Master’s Degree in Effective Teaching?
The number one benefit will be enjoyed by your students: they’ll have an effective teacher, and that matters a ton to their overall academic and professional future.
Beyond that, some schools choose to compensate their teachers more if they have a Master’s Degree in an education related field. Since we’re a brand new graduate institution that has yet to issue its first degrees, we don’t yet know how many of our teachers might be eligible for this financial benefit.
Bottom line: only pursue this program if you are primarily interested in becoming an unusually effective teacher in a college-prep urban charter school. Period.