December 2, 2011
The Department of Education is looking within itself for help creating instructional materials to go along with new curriculum standards.
The city is hiring 30 to 40 teachers and administrators with experience in curriculum development to devise literacy and math lessons that are aligned with the Common Core, the curriculum standards the state adopted this year. The “Common Core fellows” will serve as “a class of leaders,” evaluating current teaching methods and writing new instructional materials for schools to use, according to DOE spokesman Matthew Mittenthal.
The teachers who are selected will also get authorship credit when they produce new materials and overtime pay for attending workshops twice a month and during school breaks, according to a brochure soliciting applications. The program’s quarter-million-dollar price tag is being footed privately, Mittenthal said.
The department will also invite local and national curriculum experts who devised and studied the Common Core, which begins in preschool, to train the teachers on how to evaluate student work and devise good instructional practices, he said.
“The final product will be a portfolio of resources for all New York City public schools: tasks for students, best teaching practices, guidelines for evaluating a classroom, and sample student work,” Mittenthal said in an email.
Bernard Gassaway, the principal of Boys and Girls High School in Bedford-Stuyvesant, said he is not sure how useful those materials would be for his teachers. The main resource he needs to align instruction to the Common Core, he said, is on-the-ground assistance and time to integrate the standards slowly.
“That stuff is already available online,” he said, referring to resources that the DOE has published on its website. “The best way to roll out the Common Core is by embedding [professional development]. In other words, you have people who are actually practicing daily coming into the schools and helping teachers on the ground — people with years of experience working on the Common Core.”
At a meeting about the Common Core at the beginning of the school year, teachers told GothamSchools that they were excited about the new standards but nervous that they would not receive sufficient guidance on how to use them.
“I feel an incredible amount of enthusiasm for the first time in eight years,” said one teacher at the time. “I really just hope that we’re supported from the top on this.”
“We’re heading in the right direction, but there’s still fear,” another teacher said. “And that’s okay.”
The fellowship program comes on top of school-based training sessions for teachers. DOE officials also held an information session, which was derailed by protests, for parents and Panel for Education Policy members last month.