New York City is plunging into its pre-K program in a big way. The program, which begins this school year, anticipates an influx of over 4,000 pre-K teachers and 53,000 students. To begin this new program, the Department of Education has partnered with the renowned Bank Street College of Education to hold three-day teaching “institutions” to help prepare new and current pre-K teachers for teaching students of diverse backgrounds and ability levels in New York City’s new pre-K program. Their ultimate goal? Teach educators to instruct using the Common Core Curriculum methodology.
New and existing schools must meet health and building specifications for preschool-aged children, and more than 50,000 students need to be recruited. However, Department of Education Chancellor, Carmen Fariña, noted the ultimate way to change the school system is to provide professional development for the thousands of new instructors. Administrators believe that by educating students with a pre-K program containing scholastic goals rather than “glorified babysitting,” characteristics that are currently in place in several pre-K programs, students will have a more solid foundation for their academic careers.
The three-day program was available to new and learned teachers and assistant teachers, and attendance was not mandatory. While the conference was led by Bank Street instructors, most meetings included small-group breakout sessions in which new teachers were paired with instructors holding more experience in teaching and proficiency. The result was an exchange of knowledge not entirely specific to curriculum, but encompassing classroom management, teaching episodes, and shared experiences. With further instructor-led sessions on teaching students with disabilities and assisting students who speak English as a second language, New York City believes this new program will increase learning of students and teachers alike.
What programs does your school district have in place to prepare teachers for the beginning of the school year? How do these programs work? Is attendance mandatory? What would you change or add to improve your district’s teacher management software? We would love to read and share your responses.