Friday, January 16, 2004

DC Teaching Fellows

When doing a google seach on "DC Public Schools" the top sponsored link is DC Teaching Fellows which I have never seen before. According to their website:
DC Mayor Anthony Williams and the DC Public Schools are calling on one hundred of the nation's most outstanding professionals to become DC Teaching Fellows and commit at least two years to teaching in DC Public Schools. They want you- professionals from a variety of careers- to bring your experiences, knowledge, and record of achievement to the classroom and positively impact the lives of our students.

When you become a DC Teaching Fellow, you become part of a powerful network of other Fellows and talented educators who are making systematic improvements in our city's schools.

As a Fellow, you will be trained at a comprehensive instructional summer institute and provided with a support network to ensure your success in the classroom. You will also receive a special education signing bonus and financial incentives toward your teaching certification and/or Master's degree.

In theory this actually sounds like an excellent program. I think older (middle aged) are a great source of untaped pool of potential teachers. Most will have a lifetime's worth of life and work experience that they bring with them. This is exactly what my father has done: after retiring from the Air Force he went back to university earned a teaching degree and is enjoying a successful second career as a history / social studies teacher.

Unfortunately, when I went a'googling for some more data on the program I came across posts such as this:
> Hello,
> I would like any information anyone has about the teaching
> fellow program. How much support do you receive? What is
> the application/interview process like (timeline, what are
> they looking for)? I can be emailed at
> Thank you.

Oh man what a disorganized mess. I applied and didn't receive my "acceptance" letter until way after the deadline for when they told me I had to respond to their offer. HA! The application process is an insult. The "interview" is a procedure whereby several pissed off middle age black women judge you mercilessly. (I am black and so you can save your comments about racism. My friend who applied is half Latino, half Cambodian and came away with the same impression. These are miserable people running the DC Teaching Fellows show and we wanted nothing to do with them.)

I was offered admission to several prestigious schools and programs and decided to do the Montgomery County / Johns Hopkins ProMAT. It's a two year masters degree and certification program that is paid for by Montgomery County. I'd urge anyone considering the DC Teaching Fellows program to instead do the ProMAT. The county and the university have a true partnership.

My friend who went through the interview the same day I did is now attending Stanford grad school. He was rejected by the DC Teaching Fellows. I don't know why. He's a better public speaker than me and graduated from the U. of Chicago with highest honors and a 4.0 GPA. Go figure. DC's loss. Good luck.
And this:
> Wish I could say i disagree, but I don't. I am in 1st year of the
DCTF program -
> PURE CHAOS!!!! In fact, I wish I had known about "the Montgomery
> County / Johns Hopkins ProMAT. It's a two year masters degree and
> certification program that is paid for by Montgomery County."

I most certainly would have opted for that one if I'd known it was available. Additionally, I now know that, notwithstanding NCLB, if you qualify for provisional licensure you can take courses through the teacher's union in DC. Never mind that though, there's too much chaos, confusion, dissension, heartache, broken promises with DC, DCPS and DCTF. If you are set on doing the DCTF be prepared to have deep pockets and plenty of kleenex. You'll need both.

Another DCTFer
Very discouraging, but par-for-the-course in DC. I would be interested in hearing other people's experience with the DC Teaching Fellows. I hope its not as bad as some of the information I've found indicates.

UPDATE: Followups here and here.