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Ryan Announces Harvard Teacher Fellows Program

Dean James Ryan has announced the creation of the Harvard Teacher Fellows program, an innovative new pathway for Harvard College undergraduates to enter a teaching career.

Harvard Graduate School of Education Dean James Ryan announced today the Harvard Teacher Fellows (HTF) program, an innovative new pathway for Harvard College undergraduates to enter a teaching career. This selective program offers free, world-class teacher preparation for Harvard College seniors to become middle school and high school mathematics, science, history, and English teachers.

“At a time when the importance of excellent teachers has been further reinforced by recent research, the Harvard Teacher Fellows program is designed to attract and support talented students to a vitally important profession,” said Harvard University President Drew Faust. “Research shows that great teachers can have a great impact — on both students and the schools that serve them. The Harvard Teacher Fellows program will be an innovative and important contribution to strengthening K–12 education by giving new teachers the tools to succeed in the classroom and offering children throughout the country the transformative benefits of high-quality instruction.”

The program, designed by HGSE faculty experts in teaching and learning, was created in response to the growing interest in education among Harvard undergraduates. It is also designed to respond to the need for more well-prepared teachers by drawing Harvard undergraduates into the teaching profession. HTF will prepare teachers in three distinct ways. It will train students to teach specific subjects, prepare students to be competent teachers through field-based training from their first day on the job, and provide continued resources and supports necessary to enable students to remain in teaching.

“I am thrilled that the Harvard Graduate School of Education will launch the innovative Harvard Teacher Fellows program,” said Ryan. “We believe that Harvard undergraduates, who have demonstrated a strong interest in education, will see HTF as an attractive pathway into teaching because of the field-based and subject-specific training it offers, as well as the strong support they will receive during their first years on the job. The unique depth and breadth of ongoing support will provide fellows with the tools to be successful in the classroom on day one, and to then remain in teaching for years to come. ” 

The HTF program begins with eight months of intensive, field-based preparation, starting in January of the senior year through August. Training includes both coursework and mentored teaching. Fellows continue on to one academic year of part-time, field-based training in districts and charter networks across the nation, during which they continue to receive intensive coaching and training from HGSE faculty. Following the training, fellows return to HGSE where the program culminates with an additional summer of coursework, mentored teaching, and the ability to earn initial teacher licensure. Students then enter the teaching profession with the skills and dispositions to become effective and successful teachers while receiving continued coaching and training from HGSE. In addition, fellows interested in continuing their studies may apply their HTF coursework toward a master’s degree at HGSE.

“The program will provide high-quality, intensive, subject-specific, and sustained support for fellows, both during their initial pre-service year in the field as well as during the critical first few years of teaching,” said Associate Professor Jon Star, who chaired the committee that designed the proposal. “An innovative feature of the program is that we will offer field-based professional development at a distance. Pre-service teachers will have a reduced load so that they can participate in at least two seminars each week, where we will provide training in pedagogical methods as well as group and individual coaching.”

The first cohort of seniors can apply in Fall 2015 for a Spring 2016 enrollment. Ultimately, HGSE hopes to grow the cohort to 100 Harvard seniors each year.

“Education is a subject of great interest to Harvard undergraduates,” said Senior Lecturer Katherine Merseth, who teaches a popular undergraduate course on American education. “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.”

The program is being generously supported through a lead gift of $10 million from two Harvard graduates, themselves children of teachers, committed to building the pipeline of talented students who enter teaching and who hope that HTF can serve as a model for other universities. Additionally, a generous gift from long-time Harvard supporters Richard and Ronay Menschel, and support from President Faust, will enable the launch of the program in Fall 2015.

“The program responds to a strong commitment among our undergraduates to public service professions and a growing interest in classroom teaching,” Faust said. “It also demonstrates the power of collaboration across Harvard, matching the extraordinary talents and potential of our undergraduates with the expertise and passion of our school of education — the results of which we hope will be long and satisfying careers in schools and classrooms.”