Harvard University plans to launch a fellowship program to prepare seniors at the college to become K-12 teachers, giving them more than a year of student-teaching, a lightened courseload, and follow-up supports once they’ve started to lead their own classrooms.
The university already has an undergraduate teacher-preparation program, but it’s small, enrolling on the order of 25 students per year. Most of the teachers Harvard prepares are graduate students. But in recent years, it has seen an increased interest among undergraduates in pursuing a teaching career, said James Ryan, the dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
For instance, the adviser for the small teacher-prep program has been fielding an increasing number of inquiries from undergraduates. And a set of courses on education at the undergraduate level has proved to be highly popular. One of them, Dilemmas of Equity and Excellence in American K-12 Education, has a 65-person cap, but has hundreds of students vying for spots.
The new program will begin in the 2015-16 academic year with about 40 slots. The university eventually wants to expand it to 100 a year.
Harvard’s move comes as many states are seeing large declines in the number of enrollments in teacher-preparation programs. That phenomenon has triggered soul-searching about how recent changes in policies on teacher evaluation and the tenor of media coverage of the profession are affecting perceptions of teaching.
A version of this article appeared in the November 12, 2014 edition of Education Week as Harvard Launches Initiative to Prepare Seniors to Enter Teaching