What does Bank Street College know about preparing teachers? (VIDEO!)

The answer is a lot.  Check out the above video from Edutopia, that highlights how Bank Street empowers new teachers. With nearly 100 years of experience, Bank Street College has a unique approach that gets it right for teachers and students.

As the video shows, at Bank Street, I learned how to observe, understand and build relationships with students through a combination of reading and discussing developmental theory, and supervised field work through the advisement program. In my course work and student teaching, I learned to take identify developmentally appropriate content and determine the key concepts students need to understand within it.  I practiced designing curriculum that provides students with experiences, language, reflection and application opportunities to really grasp those concepts.  Through what Bank Street calls the developmental-interaction approach, students do not learn skills in isolation.  We introduce skills as they are relevant to students’ experiences and questions.

I recognize many of my professors here! Luisa Costa-Garro, Bernadette Anand… I still remember what I learned from their courses. The video also shows a public school in the Bronx that Bank Street partners with to support new teachers. I benefitted from a similar partnership between Bank Street and my first school in East Harlem, called Partnership For Quality.  I received mentoring from my faculty advisor through my first two years of teaching, which was invaluable to my development as a teacher.  Here is a link to an NCATE paper called Urban Teacher Residencies and Institutes of Higher Education, written by CTQ‘s Barnett Berry, Bank Street’s Jon Snyder, and Diana Montgomery.  At the end of the paper (page 27) there is an essay I wrote about my experience in the residency program.

Revisiting my experience at Bank Street, I’m struck by one Bank Street alum who commented on the Edutopia video: 40 years after her graduation, she says, she’s sad that “the Bank Street way is not more widely regarded as THE WAY to train new teachers and thereby influence young student’s learning.”

I remember when I was at Bank Street 8 years ago and the Carnegie Corporation was studying Bank Street’s methods through a program called Teachers For a New Era. The organization had independently reviewed hundreds of the nation’s teacher prep programs. They selected Bank Street to study because their graduates (even many years later) were found to have signature teaching practices that the practicing teachers traced back to their education at Bank Street.  For five years Bank Street faculty worked to research their own methods and results (on top of their regular duties).  I remember them coming to my classroom to observe and interview me.  In the end they compiled what they found into a report.

What happens to this information?  Why, in education, do we so often fail to build on success?  Why, in education reform, do we allow the widespread implementation of tools and methods that have no proven success? This, when we have plenty of research-based knowledge about what works that has simply never been brought to scale?

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