Doug Lemov's field notes

Reflections on teaching, literacy, coaching, and practice.

05.13.16Piloting The TLaC Fellows Program

This has been a pretty amazing spring up at TLaC towers because, among other things we’ve begun to pilot “TLaC Fellows” program.

The idea is this: We want to create incentives for great teachers to be… wait for it…. even better teachers. That is, we want ways for them to be ambitious and remain in the classroom, to be ambitious about being a classroom teacher, in fact, rather than having entering administration be the only way to be ambitious.

And we want to encourage very, very good teachers to focus on getting even better- to strive to become classroom artisans who love and are fascinated by the mastery of the craft. We want them to love deep study of teaching and importantly, to influence their peers though the excellence of their daily teaching and their passion for the craft- their growth mindset, if you will. We think great schools need people like that. And being who we are of course we also want to learn not just from but with people like that- study them and their work but also study the craft generally along side them.

What we came up with was a fellowship of three year’s duration.  Fellows spend 18 months meeting with us about once a month. We watch video, share lesson plans, role play stuff, give feedback etc for a day. Then fellows go out and try to put what they are learning into their teaching, video taping it and getting more feedback from their peers.

There’s stipend for this as well. We want incentives both spiritual and practical to study teaching and to stay in teaching, so the stipend continues for 18 more months after the monthly meetings end as long as fellows remain classroom teachers.  We keep in touch and share ideas informally.  But being in the fellowship implies remaining in the classroom for three further years.

Anyway, before we commit to this program in perpetuity, we decided to pilot it very quietly for a year to try it out. (Sorry to have been so quiet about it but we have a tiny staff and just couldn’t have evaluated candidates well if word spread too fast.) Even with a very whispered announcement to just a few close colleagues we got dozens of applications and chose seven amazing teachers.  Five from within Uncommon and two from outside.  Too early to say we’ve going to do this every year but the first few meetings have been amazing and as a result we’ll be introducing you to our seven fellows over the coming weeks by means of their video and their writing. The first one is coming in the next couple of days. So stay tuned.

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