VIDEO: Empowering New Teachers: Bank Street College of Education
Running Time: 7 min.
snapshot of New York City's Bank
Street College of Education
should arrive between 4 and 5 P.M. The graduate school owns
and runs the P-8 School for Children, with which it shares several
floors. After-school activities keep many kids there past 4 P.M., when the
graduate students begin arriving for instruction.
Classrooms, bathrooms, gym, library -- they're all shared by kids
and adults. Jon Snyder, dean of the graduate school, says, "You have
a mass of people that want to become teachers walking into the
building while simultaneously passing kids who are leaving."
This commingling of age groups is a tradition at Bank Street,
founded in 1916 by progressive educator Lucy Sprague Mitchell as a
center for experiential learning. Today, the school is renowned for its
pioneering efforts in the Head Start program, children's literature,
and educational technology, as well as its
hands-on, two-year graduate program,
Bank Street's approximately
1,000 graduate students complete a
year of fieldwork in various New York
City classrooms. Essential to the experience
is hands-on training, in which partner-school
teachers and Bank Street faculty mentor the prospective
educators. In addition, groups of five to seven
candidates meet weekly with a faculty member to
critique their field experiences.
The faculty, Snyder notes, consists of top-notch
elementary school and middle school educators who
excel at training aspiring teachers. No scholarship is
required, and there's no tenure. "Everybody is on a
one-year contract," he says.
The independent School for Children is the realization
of Mitchell's vision of experiential education, which includes
building blocks, role-playing, and working with media.
The twenty-three-student classrooms typically have three adults each, two of
whom -- an assistant teacher and a student teacher -- come from
One philosophical cornerstone, featured in the coursework
and applied in the field, is constructivism, the idea that kids (and
all humans), not their teachers, make meaning by drawing their
own conclusions from experiences inside and outside the classroom.
Accordingly, Bank Street courses cover kids' learning styles
as well as their family, community, and cultural backgrounds.
Another Bank Street tenet, the "democratic ideal," is embedded
in the college's Partnership for Quality program, through
which select candidates work as paid interns in what used to be
four poorly performing Bronx schools. The schools, in return, receive
professional-development assistance. In the last four years, the
teacher-turnover rates have decreased -- in one school by as much as
25 percent -- and the K-8 students are progressing faster.
Snyder has high hopes for alumni -- of whom 88 percent are still
teaching after five years. "Evidence shows that no
matter where our students end up,
they more rapidly assume leadership
roles than other teachers. We hope
they can begin to change things one
school at a time."
Location: New York City
Degree conferred: Master's
Annual graduating class: 350-400
Time in the field: 1 year
The School for Children
Partnership for Quality, a professional-development collaboration
Bank Street Bookstore, on-site and online store for children
Bank Street Corner, a professional-development Web site for all educators