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Elevating the University’s Role in Education

HTF student teaching
A Harvard Teacher Fellow student teaching, summer 2019
Photo: Jill Anderson

Amid a developing body of research highlighting the impact a good teacher can have on a student’s achievement, the Harvard Graduate School of Education strengthened its commitment to excellence and equity in education practice by launching a program to nurture a new generation of teachers at Harvard University.

The Harvard Teacher Fellows Program nurtures a new generation of equity-minded educators from Harvard College.

Drawing on the expertise of HGSE’s faculty experts, the Harvard Teacher Fellows (HTF) Program is designed to give a select cohort of Harvard undergraduates and alumni the necessary training, deep knowledge, and experience to ensure they are effective middle and high school teachers in historically underserved schools and communities. “HTF prepares teachers to promote educational equity through skillful teaching that prioritizes academic rigor, relationship building, and continuous learning,” says Noah Heller, faculty director and master teacher in residence for mathematics.

The program’s goal is nothing short of transformational change. “It is our hope through combining the extraordinary talents of Harvard College students with the best teacher education practices and advanced support systems, HTF will develop a new cadre of teachers who change lives,” said faculty member Katherine Merseth when the program was launched in 2014.

Harvard students accepted into the cohort take two foundational courses during the spring of their senior year. Beginning that summer, they participate in 13 months of intensive training that includes both coursework and a year-long paid teaching residency, during which fellows do the real work of teaching, in part-time teacher-of-record placements. Through their coursework and intensive field-based experiences, Fellows build explicit and deep connections between theory and practice. 

To combat the high turnover rates in the profession, particularly for new teachers, HTF’s Early Career Engagement initiative offers fellows two additional years of ongoing support after graduation, including a robust suite of coaching, mentorship, leadership, and professional development opportunities.

After five years, the majority-funded program has helped to successfully launch the careers of 66 teachers and 53 current fellows, working in districts across the country. Importantly, many of those teachers have come from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds, with 52 percent of HTF fellows having identified as non-white or multiracial, and the current cohort of students being comprised of 35% first-generation college students.

“On a daily basis, HTF fellows and alumni collectively teach thousands of students,” Heller says. “They approach this teaching with a knowledge of and passion for the subjects they teach, a deep commitment to the relational work of teaching and to meeting the diverse needs of their students, and a reflective stance to continually learn and develop their craft. Their impact is felt across a national network of partner schools.” – Emily Boudreau

Learn More and Connect

Learn more about the Harvard Teacher Fellows Program.

Read a feature in Harvard Ed. magazine about Harvard undergraduates growing interest in education.

Learn about the Education Studies secondary at Harvard College.

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