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In 2003, some 22 percent of secondary-school students took at least one class with a teacher who had not earned even an undergraduate minor in the content area being taught. This was also the year that Boston College received a $5-million, five-year grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York to develop innovative programs that prepare and support teachers. Central to this University-wide initiative—called Teachers for a New Era—are efforts to enhance teacher candidates’ knowledge of the content areas they will teach and to support graduates during their first years on the job.
“In supporting Teachers for a New Era, the Carnegie Corporation helps ensure that Boston College continues to offer training at the highest level to future teachers,” says Cutberto Garza, provost and dean of faculties. “This grant lays the groundwork for greater cross-disciplinary collaboration among students, teachers in K–12 classrooms, and University faculty. This collaboration will increase the pipeline of students with strong liberal arts backgrounds who elect to teach mathematics, the sciences, or the humanities.”
A concrete example of this collaboration is the development of 20 Arts & Sciences courses that focus on the content knowledge teachers need to be more effective. Ten additional courses offer “pedagogy labs” in which students develop curricular materials and discuss teaching strategies. Boston College has also initiated a mentoring program that pairs education students with faculty from A&S, the Lynch School, and K–12 schools in Boston.
The New Teacher Academy, held in August, offers a forum for new teachers to focus on practical classroom issues and discuss strategies for curricular planning.
Boston College will enter the final year of the Carnegie grant this fall.