Classroom Technology

Bank Street College Aims to Retain ‘Essence’ in Virtual Program

By Stephen Sawchuk — October 08, 2013 2 min read
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It’s one of the ongoing challenges of preparing teachers and administrators online: Can on-the-job practice that is supervised remotely be effective—especially when it’s the heart and soul of a program?

This fall, the Bank Street College of Education, a small, private New York City-based institution best known for hands-on approaches to preparing teachers and leaders, will begin to seek its own answers. It’s beginning a study to examine how to translate the supervised fieldwork component of its math leadership program, now offered in person over three summers, into an online setting.

Bank Street’s hallmark is its small, tightly knit cohorts of aspiring educators who meet periodically, plus the deep involvement of a faculty adviser. Advisers frequently visit each candidate at his or her school, interacting with him or her in a specific way.

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Bank Street College Aims to Retain ‘Essence’ in Virtual Program

“How do you create that relational learning online?” said Robin Hummel, the interim director of the math-leadership program. “We want to attract people from all over and make the program accessible to those who can’t come to New York, but we don’t want to lose the essence of what defines Bank Street.”

From next January to May, a Bank Street faculty instructor will work with six New York City public school teacher volunteers, who will participate in five real-time, online sessions together. Participating teachers will also receive two individual coaching sessions in which they’ll receive planning conferences and debriefs on their teaching from the faculty member.

Enhancing Fieldwork

Meanwhile, a work group, staffed by experts in both math pedagogy and learning technology will advise the college and examine technologies that could enhance the fieldwork experience. Those might include earpieces that allow a mentor to communicate remotely with each candidate, Ms. Hummel said. But the first priority is making sure that the institution’s “learner centered” approach is preserved, she said.

The study is being carried out with support from a $50,000 grant from 100K in 10, a privately funded network of partner organizations that are seeking to train 100,000 effective math, technology, engineering, and science teachers over a decade.

The knowledge gleaned from the study will inform the online iteration of the math-leadership program and a second degree path, both of which are scheduled to debut in the fall of 2014.

Coverage of policy efforts to improve the teaching profession is supported by a grant from the Joyce Foundation, at www.joycefdn.org/Programs/Education. Education Week retains sole editorial control over the content of this coverage.

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