The Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute recruits both new teachers and experienced teachers for its annual seminar program to help as wide as possible a range of teachers meet State requirements. This year many of those participating in seminars and three of the Institute's teacher Representatives - who assist in the overall leadership of the Institute - are in their first year of teaching in New Haven.
The Institute's Fellows - those attending seminars - and the group of Representatives who during the fall plan and recruit for the spring's seminar offerings, reflect the involvement each year of teachers at different stages of their professional development. In 2003-04, over 40 percent of the Representatives have been in the district for no more than three years. These Representatives and others encourage colleagues who are early in their careers to join them in participating as Fellows in the seminars.
Participation by teachers in their first year can help them to meet State and district requirements for certification. During teachers' second year, they must develop a portfolio of work upon which State certification depends, and several recent Fellows have found the Institute's seminars and the writing of curriculum units helpful in this process.
In response to an anonymous survey following last year's seminar program, one first-year teacher wrote, "The hands-on approach symbolizes the experiences and work needed to understand the making of a product that teachers can create for their [State-required] portfolios and serve as a springboard for good classroom teaching."
At the same time, more experienced teachers who are in "Cycle 2" or "Cycle 3" of their careers in Connecticut are recognizing the Institute as a valuable way for them to engage in the curriculum planning, writing, and collegial reflection that is similarly required for veteran teachers to retain their certification. A number of New Haven Public School principals are encouraging their teachers to participate in the Institute as a way of fulfilling these requirements while developing materials to help their students learn.
Another teacher responding to the survey reflected: "I think that my involvement with the Institute has helped me to prepare for this year. I have a much better idea of how to present materials to my students and that comes in large part [from] seeing how the other teachers in my seminar present ideas to their students."
The Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute is a member of the League of Teachers Institutes within the Yale National Initiative to strengthen teaching in public schools. From 1997 to 2002, the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute conducted a National Demonstration Project to show how the approach developed in New Haven could be implemented in other cities with different educational needs and resources. Building on the success of the Demonstration Project, the Initiative seeks to establish Teachers Institutes in states around the country.