URBAN TEACHERS STRUCTURE
Urban Teachers was founded in 2009 to improve new teacher quality. We began in two of the highest-need districts in the nation: Baltimore, MD and Washington, DC, and the Dallas/Fort Worth site opened with its first cohort in 2016. The Urban Teachers national office is located in Baltimore and supports all three sites. Each city site has local offices and a site team that works directly with the aspiring educators and new teachers in their region.
Urban Teachers is one of the most thorough teacher preparation programs in the nation, providing its participants a year-long residency, a two-year Master of Science in Education program, three years of one-on-one coaching, and four years of experience working in high-needs classrooms. Participants who complete the four-year program graduate with the tools and skills needed to be an effective urban teacher. This is an investment that pays off for our teachers and their students.
Urban Teachers requires participants to make a four-year commitment to the program and, when possible, to their school. In order to complete the program and receive full certification, Urban Teachers participants must meet all performance expectations and program requirements.
Urban Teachers refers to its first-year participants as “residents” and its second-, third-, and fourth-year participants as “fellows.” Urban Teachers refers to the first year of its program as a “residency.” Please be aware that local school systems and state departments may use alternative terminology when describing program participants, host schools, host teachers, and clinical faculty/coaches. Additionally, terminology for teaching credentials/certification may vary by state.
Program Year Alignment with Participant Status
YEAR 1 – THE RESIDENCY YEAR
The first year of the program begins with pre-work to help prepare for Summer A, also referred to as Summer Institute. This pre-work is completed prior to the start of Summer Institute to lend insight into working in urban schools. Coaching and coursework start in Summer A and continue throughout Program Years 1 and 2, including Summer B between Years 1 and 2. In both Summer A and Summer B, Urban Teachers places residents with summer partners to provide more opportunities to work on classroom management and other teaching skills and to apply what is being learned in the coursework. The Urban Teachers Site Team members serve as the points of contact for all programmatic and administrative concerns. As residents transition to fall school placements, they continue to be supported by the Site Team.
Where possible, residents are grouped together into small cohorts in a school with which Urban Teachers has an agreement (for ease of reference only, a “partner school”), serving as a school-based support system and a built-in learning community for each other. Residents can spend time in each other’s classrooms so that they can experience different content areas and grade levels. Many residents serve in one host classroom in Semester 1 and then move to a new host classroom (within the same school) for Semester 2.
Residents are expected to become familiar with the communities in which their schools are located and with the resources at the schools that include, but also go beyond, the teaching staff.
Residents become deeply integrated into the work of supporting students during their first year in the Urban Teachers program. They conduct one-to-one and group assessments, lead mini-lesson teaching, analyze student work and student data, teach small groups, and lead whole class instruction. Residents also participate in practicum experiences that are designed to provide an opportunity to work intensively with small group of students from the host classroom. Residents work with students in math and/or literacy. The practicum allows residents to assess and analyze student data, and then plan and teach data-driven lessons. All of these experiences derive from the content and skills that residents are learning in their graduate coursework and coaching interactions.
The residency year includes approximately nine (9) weeks of student teaching. The student teaching experiences give residents the opportunity to develop and practice their instructional and classroom management skills in a whole class setting. Residents are responsible for taking the lead in planning and delivering instruction in the host classroom for the entire school day during the designated student teaching days. For documentation, residents create a portfolio that chronicles the student teaching experiences, including lesson plans, samples of student work, and video footage.
In Dallas/Fort Worth, the Texas Education Agency refers to this program year as the “Field-Based Experience.”
YEAR 2 & 3 – THE FELLOW YEARS
After Summer B ends, participants who meet all residency year expectations and program requirements and receive a fall school placement in a subject or area that aligns with the content area of their program of study become fellows and teachers of record. Fellows are employees of the school districts or charter management organizations (CMOs) in which they are placed as full-time teachers at the beginning of Program Year 2. Fellows must hold initial teaching credentials (see Program Year Alignment with Participant Status for actual terminology by state) for their first two years as teachers of record (Program Years 2 and 3).
During the first year as a teacher of record, coursework is scaled back, as the majority of the master’s level coursework was completed during the residency year. Coursework in Program Year 2 takes place one or two evenings each week. Coaching is still provided to fellows as they adjust to being the sole teacher in a classroom. Fellows in Program Years 2 & 3 receive ongoing, regular guidance and instruction through coaching across the school year that includes planning meetings, focused observations, and comprehensive coaching cycles.
In Dallas/Fort Worth, the Texas Education Agency refers to these program years as the
YEAR 4 – THE TEACHING COMMITMENT YEAR
At the conclusion of Program Year 3, fellows will attain full teacher credentials, having proven that they are effective educators. Opportunities in Program Year 4 and beyond continually develop as the Urban Teachers cohorts grow. These include opportunities to serve as Summer Institute graduate assistants, coaches, mentors, and host teachers.