As HGSE prepares to launch its Teaching and Teacher Leadership (TTL) Program, faculty co-chair Victor Pereira discusses how its distinctive approach to cohort-based preparation will make a difference.
What’s distinctive about TTL’s approach to teacher education?
What makes this program distinctive — and where I think our graduates will be distinctively prepared as educators and leaders in our K–12 schools — is our deep emphasis on cohort-based preparation for teachers. The relationships among the aspiring teachers and leaders in our program, and with us as instructors and mentors, will be a dynamic that creates a strong network of supported learning, drawing on our rich and diverse lived experiences.
In our program, we think equally about what our students are going to learn and about what they’re going to practice. So for me — as an instructor, an advisor, and a mentor — I am hoping to nurture the whole person, and that’s what TTL will do. We are designing responsive learning opportunities for aspiring and experienced educators — opportunities that draw from and respond to their lived experiences and to the diversity of experiences of the students they’ll teach. The experience of learning together and supporting one another in our learning and our teaching — it’s intense, but it makes for a great preparation and a great overall experience .
How do you think HGSE’s approach here will contribute to the field of education?
I think we’re strongly positioned to be growing our impact in our K–12 partner schools. This program represents the perfect meeting place between HGSE’s longstanding tradition of research excellence and a deeply practice-rooted building of expertise, with immersion, mentorship, coaching, and feedback. We’ll be sharing both elements of that — the research and the practice-based expertise — with our partner schools and the wider field.
We want to walk the walk here in our program — we want to create rich learning opportunities for our TTL students that reflect their diverse lived experiences — and give them the capacities to create diverse learning opportunities for their own students, in their own classrooms. We’ll embrace our roles both as learners but also always as teachers. We’ll ask, what am I learning, and who am I supporting in their learning?
Talk about the role teachers play. How essential is it?
When you think about that one person who you can credit for a turning point in your life, it’s so often an educator. I mean, we have our parents and our friends, but it’s often an educator who helps us develop a sense of identity — who helps us start to find our place and see our potential, and who has high expectations for our success. I think of my fourth grade teacher, who really just helped me build confidence — it was that simple — and start to get comfortable in my own skin. Almost everyone has an educator like that somewhere in their past. That’s what a great teacher can be in someone’s life, and every student deserves that.
This pandemic is being experienced by everyone — teachers and students alike — in different ways. As this challenge continues, the ability to listen to our learners is critical. We need to listen to the ways in which their positions and their experiences are impacting their learning. Having a teacher who understands the diverse lived experiences of students — that’s even more key today, and it’s necessary for creating learning opportunities for every student.