March 3, 2005 • Volume 13 Number 12

A 'New Era' Officially Kicks Off Today

By Reid Oslin
Staff Writer

Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Boston Public Schools representatives will join University administrators at a campus reception today to formally launch the "Teachers for a New Era" program at Boston College.

The teaching initiative, funded by the Carnegie Corp. of New York City with support from the Annenberg Foundation and the Ford Foundation, is designed to improve both children's learning and overall school effectiveness by developing state-of-the-art, university-based teacher education programs across the United States.

Today's TNE program launch will be held in the Heights Room of the Corcoran Commons beginning at 4:30 p.m. In addition to Menino, participants will include Cawthorne Professor in Urban Education Marilyn Cochran-Smith, president of the American Education Research Association, who will speak on the challenges of preparing teachers for the 21st century.

Since the TNE grant was announced in the fall of 2003, University organizers have already implemented several programs in advance of today's event.

A teaching and learning seminar involving faculty and staff members from the College of Arts and Sciences and the Lynch School of Education and top-level Boston school administrators was held on campus last fall.

Another initiative of the Carnegie-funded program has created a partnership between science classes at Brighton's Garfield Elementary School and scientists from Boston College's Weston Observatory. This project, which has received widespread acclaim from science educators, involves the installation of a seismograph in the school's science laboratory allowing students to monitor actual earthquake activity around the world.

"Teachers for a New Era is an effort to reaffirm the importance of university-based teacher education," said Associate Academic Vice President for Undergraduate Programs John J. Burns, who is the TNE project manager. "The University as a whole needs not only to cooperate, but to take on the preparation of teachers as a major goal, a major function of the school. The College of Arts and Sciences and the other schools need to be a part of teacher preparation to make it better."

Good teachers come from all disciplines in higher education, says Burns, and colleges and universities need to continue the support of young teachers after they receive their diplomas. "The first couple of years of teaching are when most of the real learning takes place," he said, "and universities ought to have a role during that induction period.

"One thing that TNE will be doing is setting up a process of mentoring and support for students who need help with physics or mathematics or some other area," Burns said. "Using faculty members from Arts and Sciences or the Lynch School of Education, for example, providing resources electronically on the Web, one-on-one mentoring and classroom observation are some of the ways in which the University can continue to be involved in the development of teachers after graduation."

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