New York City Teaching Fellows versus Teaching Residents @ Teachers College

Update: Lots of people visit this blog via searches for information about NYCTF and TR@TC. Lately, lots of search inquiries are focused on notification. For those of you looking for that information: TC has begun notifying applicants of final decisions. Yay!!! I’ve been admitted to the MA in TESOL program! This is the first step in the two-part process for admission to the TR@TC program. I’ve also been admitted to the NYC Teaching Fellows! I’m really inspired and deeply honored to have been admitted to both programs. So exciting!

December 10th was an exciting day for me…and a bunch of other folks who participated in a New York Teaching Fellows interview “event.” It was a fun, inspiring, and exhausting process, which I wrote about in detail here. At the end of the day, we were told that we would “hear back” in four to six weeks. In the meantime, or more specifically, while I wasn’t neurotically checking and rechecking the MYNYCTF portal (each applicant is given access to the portal, where she can check the status of her application, upload documents, receive and send email to the folks at Teaching Fellows headquarters, and so on), I was searching for other opportunities to become a classroom teacher in a NYC public school without, ideally, spending another twenty plus thousand dollars on tuition for a program that leads to certification. According to my site statistics, a lot of other NYC Teaching Fellow applicants are also waiting anxiously to learn whether or not they will be counted among the approximately nine percent of those accepted into the program.

Well, good news aspiring teachers. It turns out that there are currently eight programs that offer “alternative routes to certification” to folks who are interested in teaching in New York City public schools and who meet the eligibility requirements.  I’ve applied to two: the New York City Teaching Fellows and–now my first choice–Teaching Residents @ Teachers College (TR@TC). It might be worth your time and effort to check out a few of these other programs and, if you are eligible, prepare and submit applications. Here, I’ll tell you what I’ve learned at an information session about TR@TC and while preparing my application and share why the TR@TC program is a much more attractive option in my case.

Those of you who have already gone through the application and interview processes with the NYC Teaching Fellows should know the following: Most fellows will go on to teach special education or science and a small number may be brought on to teach English as a foreign language (EFL). I’ve applied to teach EFL…so this looming question mark from the folks at NYCTF makes me nervous…and so I’ve marked a tick on the con list. In contrast, the TR@TC program offers three tracks that lead to certification for aspiring teachers: Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), which leads to a K-12 certification; Intellectual Disabilities, Autism (IDA), which leads to a 7-12 Teaching Students with Disabilities certification; and Teaching Students with Disabilities, Secondary Inclusive Education, which leads to a 7-12 Teaching Students with Disabilities certification. You can check out the eligibility requirements for each on the TR@TC website.

Hands down, NYC Teaching Fellows is mighty attractive to those of us who already have loads of student loan debt from undergraduate and graduate studies. Teaching Fellows take an intensive summer course and then are awarded a provisional certification that qualifies them to teach in a NYC public school. During the summer immersion course, fellows begin their master’s programs, which are highly subsidized by the NYC Department of Education. Fellows do pay for some of their tuition (less than 7,000) and they are responsible for all other costs (books, transportation, etcetera). The tuition payments are taken bit-by-bit from a fellows’ paychecks, and since fellows are working full-time in a New York City public school while taking master’s courses part time…it is unlikely that any fellow will have to borrow money to participate in the program. This is a giant tick on the pro list for the NYC Teaching Fellows.

Oh, call me crazy…but TR@TC…even though I might have to take a loan to do it…is a much more attractive program. Here’s the deal on the money front: All teaching residents are awarded a scholarship that pays for 18 of the 38 required credits. In addition to that scholarship, residents are awarded a $22,500 stipend that they can use to help defray living expenses or put toward the remaining tuition costs, which amounts to…at $1231 per credit: $24,620. Yikes. There is, however, a possibility for loan forgiveness if graduates spend five years teaching in a high needs school. This is not a done deal yet…but I am sending regular requests to the Universe to make it happen! Note: TR@TC graduates are required to spend three years teaching in a high-needs school after graduating from the program. Those who do not, are required to pay back the scholarship and stipend monies.

What makes it more attractive? Have you checked out the image above? First, residents complete the master’s program in 14 months while working closely with a mentor teacher in a public school. In contrast, NYC Teaching Fellows work full-time in a public school and take their master’s courses in the evening. Most NYC Teaching Fellows take two to three years to complete their master’s degree. Importantly, the provisional certification lasts only three years, so fellows MUST earn their certification within that time. Second, the TR@TC program provides much more support to residents. Check out this semester-by-semester breakdown.

In the first summer session, each resident receives a school assignment and visits that school to build some familiarity. Residents earn approximately 13 credits during the summer session by attending the Intensive Summer Institute. In sum, the first summer semester combines field and classroom components. Then life gets a bit busy.

During the fall semester residents spend three full days per week in their schools working alongside their mentors. In addition to the residency, residents take graduate courses (in the evenings) and attend weekly “integration seminars” each Friday from 9:00am to 1:00pm to discuss their experiences in their respective schools, and integrate those practical experiences with what they are encountering in their coursework. Residents are also required to spend thirty hours “interacting” with a community based organization (CBO) situated in the same community as the school they are assigned to. In order to prevent residents from developing a limited view of the public school system, each are placed in another school for twenty days during the fall semester. It. Sounds. Brilliant. Life gets busier.

The spring semester is just as intense–if not more so. Residents spend four full days per week working alongside their mentors in the NYC public school they are assigned to, attend the Friday integration seminars each week, complete six credits worth of coursework, complete their certification requirements, and begin their job searches. In addition, as during the fall semester, residents are observed while they are in the classroom by Residency Supervisors.

The final semester, it is said, is a bit more relaxed as the program is wrapping up. Residents complete three to six credits of coursework, finish their integrating seminar, work with support system at Teachers College to find a job, and gear up for their first year of teaching in a high-needs New York City public school!

Okay, all of that is intense, brilliant, and makes me super-excited, nervous, and finger-cross-ey (because I really hope I am accepted into the program)…but I haven’t even mentioned what I think is the most attractive aspect of the TR@TC program: The induction years. In short, residents get loads of support during their first two years as teachers. This includes: an induction mentor, monthly observations from folks appointed by Teachers College, monthly meetings with their master’s cohort, and more. (Check the image above.) Second year, more support, more mentoring, more professional development. This appeals to me for a few different reasons: a) I know that becoming a good teacher is A LOT of work and the more support and feedback I get, the more my students will learn;  b) The NYC Teaching Fellows model feels a bit like seven weeks of basic training before jumping out of plane and into the school zone; and c) Research shows that teachers who receive mentoring and intensive feedback are much more likely to be more effective teacher and to continue teaching for more than five years.

The bottom line is, the TR@TC program will better prepare me to be an effective teacher in a high-needs school. As for the money…man, it sure would help if I didn’t have to borrow more money, God knows it’s true…but I’m going to consider it an investment in my future students. You know, the kids who need more well-prepared and dedicated teachers. They’re worth it!

Moving Forward

Timeline: The “priority deadline” for the TR@TC admissions is January 15th. You can read more details about the application process here. Two days ago I “heard back” from the New York City Teaching Fellows; they told me that my application was still under review and changed my status from “interview completed” to “decision pending.” It’s not clear to me whether anyone has been accepted or if this is another “cut” (I made second cut…like during sports try-outs in high school!). The email from NYCTF indicated that accepted applicants will be notified in “spring.” Not very specific! The NYCTF summer-intensive training begins in June. Those who have applied to TR@TC by the priority deadline will know by mid-March whether they are accepted. The first summer session begins on May 14th!!

Tell Me About Your Experience!

Have you applied to NYCTF, TR@TC, or any of the other programs that offer alternative routes to certification? What has been your experience? Good luck to us all!

On the fence about whether or not you should teach? Consider this.

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About kalisaddhu
"The Method is to Know the Mind."

3 Responses to New York City Teaching Fellows versus Teaching Residents @ Teachers College

  1. Hi, I am thinking of applying to the TR@TC program, and was wondering if you had any updates regarding your experience with the program? I plan to apply for the May 2014 cohort.

    • kalisaddhu says:

      Hi, Gracie,

      I was admitted to TC for the Masters in TESOL program but not into the residency itself. Therefore, I declined my spot and accepted the fellowship from the NYCTF. I am now attending an MA in TESOL and Hunter College. Hunter is an excellent school, NYCTF is a flawed program but I am grateful for the many learning experiences it has brought me.

      Best of luck to you!

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