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Does Teach For America's Summer Institute Really Prepare Teachers for the Classroom?

Institute guru Susan Asiyanbi responds to some of the common critiques of the intensive process.


Over the next few weeks, 5,200 new Teach For America members will become first-year teachers in some of this nation’s most challenging school settings. In lieu of a traditional, year-long teacher preparation program, they just spent five weeks attending one of the organization's eight summer training institutes. That short time span makes the institute an intense experience, and critics say it can’t truly prepare corps members to teach.

The institutes are overseen by Susan Asiyanbi, Teach For America’s executive vice president for teacher preparation, support and development, who draws on her personal experience growing up on the South Side of Chicago and working as a corps member in Newark, New Jersey, as well her Kellogg M.B.A. We caught up with her to find out what the organization is doing to improve its training program, and got some answers to some of the common critiques of the process.

GOOD: What does a typical day at the institute look like for a corps member?

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Technology and Teachers: The Rise of the Hybrid School

What if tech tools could be used to provide a completely customizable education experience throughout the entire school day?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HSTrI6nj5xU

Talk to any teacher—veteran or neophyte—and she'll tell you that one of the most challenging things is teaching students who are at different levels. Imagine the effort and skill required to teach a fourth grade class where a few kids are struggling to read Dr. Seuss, a few are zipping through the last Harry Potter book, and everyone else is somewhere in between.

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Arne Duncan's Against Seniority-Based Teacher Layoffs

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wants to change the policy of firing the teachers who've been in the job for the shortest time first.


With draconian cuts looming for state education budgets, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wants the nation's governors to be clear: Those cuts can't hurt the quality of education children receive. To that end, when it comes to the tough decisions about laying off teachers, Duncan says the days of a last-in-first-out (LIFO) policy of layoffs are over. Instead, student achievement results need to determine which teachers get the axe.

In a conference call with reporters, Duncan denied that he's "danced around the issue" and said that labor and management have a shared responsibility to put students at the center of their relationship. And, if budgets require teachers to be fired, "Layoffs should be based on a number of factors but the most important thing we can do is keep the best teachers in schools where they are needed most."

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