Saturday, May 29, 2010

New Teachers

We've just returned from Cambridge, MA, where we attended the graduation of our favorite student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Matt Yellin, and his classmates in the Teacher Education Program (TEP).

As we watched close to 700 students in this and other Master and Doctoral level programs in teaching, administration, and guidance walk across the stage (sometimes with children in their arms) to receive their diplomas, we were struck by the diversity of this group. Not just in the cultural sense, although there were students from every corner of the country and from all over the world. But this group was diverse in terms of their experience, as well.

Some graduates had worked for years as classroom teachers, or as reading specialists, or as administrators (often in several roles). Others were only a year out of college and had only taught as student teachers. In just the TEP program, one student was a physician in her fifties who had decided to make a career change and teach middle school science. Another was a gifted dancer, who decided to turn to teaching after a long career with leading ballet companies. He had already taught Latin for a couple of years at a parochial school and had decided to obtain his Masters degree to enable him to teach in a public school. Still another graduate was awaiting his Peace Corp assignment.

It was exciting to see the breadth of intellect and experience that will enrich students around the world for years to come.

Unfortunately, with too few exceptions, most of the amazing new teachers in the TEP program do not yet have job commitments for September. Even those schools with openings that want to hire them are not sure that they can, given budget freezes, layoffs, and financial uncertainty. Even our favorite graduate (who wants to teach high school history to urban students) is waiting for a firm commitment from principals who have said they want to hire him; they can't make an offer until they get a better handle on their budget.

So, as we unpack the U-Haul and load an apartment's worth of furniture into our garage, we hope that all these gifted new teachers -- and their colleagues around the country, new and experienced -- are able to pursue their passions and to share their skills with the students who can benefit from their enthusiasm and training. Job offers for Matt and his classmates can be sent to

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