http://www.urbanteachers.org

Urban Teachers

Elementary School Teacher

May 2020 • Baltimore, MD

What I liked

-Coaching: they provide an opportunity for you to receive 1 on 1 support and feedback aimed to enhance your teaching skills. A coach is provided for the entire 4 year program. -Teaching Residency: the residency year is implemented to give you first-hand teaching with students before taking on your own classroom. During the year I was able to experience 2 different classroom styles. Thus I got a glimpse of different aspects as well as took away strategies for my own class. -Masters Degree: the program was tied to a Masters Degree from Johns Hopkins University and 2 certification programs (elementary ed and special ed)

What I wish was different

-Coaching: you do not get to choose your coach. I know people personally who struggled to get proper direction from their coach. Nothing was done to help them. In addition, one of my coaches was not helpful at all. It was as if I was mastering everything even-though I knew I had things to improve on. -Teaching Residency: during the year I was able to experience 2 different classroom styles. One was great the other was poor. The teacher seemed as if they was not interested in teaching and specifically stated "I cannot help them". I wish the program vetted their host teachers better. The switch mid-year definitely took a toll on students. There is so much emphasis on retaining teachers because the kids latch on to them, but then they throw us around like rag dolls. -Masters Degree: although the program was tied to Johns Hopkins University, I did not feel like a student of JHU at all. There was so much disconnect between the University and the Program. I reached out to the University multiple times and was denied and told to talk to the program (specifically about COVID relief being offered by the university. We were denied since we were in a "separate" program). -Admin/Support: during the first year, admin tells you to reach out when needed. I would say only 2 people stood true to their word. The directors and other "support staff" failed to respond to emails and would often tell us to ask someone else. Very unorganized and they miscommunicate OFTEN. Many things are unsaid until questions are asked. There have been multiple racial complaints against the organization from different cohorts that are yet to be handled appropriately.

Advice

Be strong minded, open-minded, flexible, and outspoken. 1. You are placed where you're needed, not where you want to be. Be prepared to be flexible in the fact that you do not choose which school you want to do your residency or full-time teaching. 2. BUDGET BUDGET BUDGET. The pay is not livable and you have to file your own taxes on it so you will need a side job (even though they tell you not to and there's barely any time for it). Don't be afraid to apply for assistance. I suggest having money already saved up. 3. Speak up about your issues and document them. When there's a concern, CC multiple people on emails and keep record in the event that you have to address your concern with higher authority. 4. ASK QUESTIONS, write down the answer and who said it because there's a lot of "he said, she said". 5. Stay connected with your cohort to make time for self-care
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High School English Teacher

May 2020 • Washington, DC

What I liked

The coursework is rigorous and much of it is highly clinical and applicable to what we need to do in the classroom. We are placed in REAL schools doing the REAL work. The coaching program is a safeguard to make it more likely that, despite the dearth of resources for teachers in these environments, you're being developed professionally somewhere, whether that's at your school, through your coach, or both. Some of the faculty really cared about me and worked hard to make sure that I stayed in the program at those moments when I was really really struggling to keep up.

What I wish was different

Number one issue I have faced was that UT was not prepared (nobody was) to deal with what my cohort would be facing in our first year teaching, as people who had done a virtual residency year due to the pandemic. We were just kind of thrown in. NOBODY made sure I knew what to do on the first day of school. I got ZERO proactive advice or coaching on how to establish a daily/weekly routine, how to prevent/respond to really difficult behaviors, etc. Every piece of advice I got only happened after I lifted my head from the ground and begged for help. If we're really preparing people to teach, then we can't assume that people will just figure this out on their own or with the help of their school, because that's not the educational landscape we live in. I would have loved more faculty and coaches who represented my Black and brown classmates (and our Black and brown students). I had some wonderful wonderful professors and coaches. I also had some less-than-wonderful experiences. Talking to my cohort in these first two years, it sometimes felt as though the quality of our experiences was inconsistent depending upon the individual.

Advice

The work is extremely grueling. You have to already know that you are willing to give your life to it. If you want to "try out teaching," this program is NOT for you. This is for people who are CERTAIN that they are ready to commit. I highly recommend taking at least a year before entering UT to work in schools or with populations who experience things similar to what our students do. If you are white, you need to establish some competency working with Black and brown students in 'urban' settings.
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Resident Teacher

March 2021 - May 2022 • Dallas, TX

What I liked

Residency year is very insightful into the teaching profession especially for participants without a formal undergraduate background in the field of education. Multiple layers of support are provided to help prepare the next batch of culturally responsive educators. Instructional coaches, provided by Urban Teachers, are invaluable assets and provide targeted feedback to hone best practices.

What I wish was different

What I wish had been different was the preparation process for certification exams. Although there are self-paced and asynchronous modules provided, there were seldom opportunities for collaborative studying facilitated by Urban Teachers. More avenues of support, including but not limited to: study sessions, video resources, and pacing guides should be made available and optional in the future. Disclaimer: Taking initiative to find and access these items with other participants is standard but the aforementioned recommendation is nonetheless valid.

Advice

Personal advice for prospective participants: 1. Organize all your files. Google Drive and Calendar will become your best friends. 2. Manage your email inbox. Keeping track of correspondence will ensure preparedness. 3. Reach out to members of the community! Network with your peers, alumni, professors, and or instructional coaches to enhance your learning outcomes in the program.
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