Rapid Teacher Training

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Few people agree on the appropriate amount of training required to adequately prepare a teacher for the classroom. Programs based off of long-term volunteers or paid recruits, such as Teach For America (TFA), City Year, and the MATCH Charter School, don't have the luxury of providing their teachers and tutors a four year undergraduate degree in education. Other educational programs and organizations, such as summer camps and after school programs, share the same need: to rapidly train people to be teachers.

This project on WikiEducator is not designed to take a stance on finding the perfect length of an educator training program. It is an overview of the core components of a few successful teacher training programs from a variety of organizations, paired with a guide to aid the development of new training programs of any type or length that utilizes these components and the principles behind them. An example curriculum of a 5-hour training program for college-aged volunteers, built using this guide and set of core components, is also documented here. It is the goal of the project for users of the wiki to be able to build better training programs for the teachers in their organization.

To grow the project, we need more interviews and book/article summaries to broaden the shared knowledge base on the subject. To improve the quality and utility of the guide and core components, we need more discussion on the talk pages, especially from the individuals working to build or improve rapid teacher training programs in their own organizations. The value in this content is dependent on the continued iteration of the community.


Andy Pethan: Primary author. I am a senior at Olin College of Engineering in Needham, MA. Olin College's curriculum leaves significant room for humanities and entrepreneurship outside of the engineering curriculum. Students pursuing a humanities concentration are required to complete a capstone course or project -- this is my capstone project. I am far from an expert on teacher training, but the compiled knowledge and perspectives of the people I've interviewed and worked with have given me enough information to create a reasonable base for a WikiEducator project. Since I am very passionate about teacher training and development, I continue to be involved in the ongoing development of this project even after the coursework has ended. Please email me at rockychat3 (a@t) gmail.com if you are not sure how to help the project further develop.

Creating a Rapid Teacher Training (RTT) Program

If you are developing or improving on a teacher training program, start here. The guide outlines the general process for developing an appropriate training program for the needs of your organization. The core components are a synthesis of the common content and concepts found in the programs interviewed for this project (see interview notes under "Existing Training Programs" below for the basis of these components). Use the guide and core components as the base for developing your rapid teacher training program.

Published RTT Resources

These books and articles are used by some of the RTT programs under study. You should consider using them with trainees if they line up with the goals of your program.

  • Teach Like A Champion (Doug Lemov) -- this book contains 49 distinct techniques used by the best teachers in preparing and teaching in the classroom. It is best used as a guide to describe specific teaching skills that can be practiced and refined.
  • Teaching As Leadership (Wendy Kopp / Teach For America) -- this book describes the six core beliefs of TFA: set big goals, invest in students/families, plan purposefully, execute effectively, continually increase effectiveness, and work relentlessly. The TFA Summer Institute (5+ week training program) is based off of these guiding principles. This is useful for program designers, but excerpts may be applicable for trainees.
  • Building a Better Teacher (Elizabeth Green, NYT Magazine) -- this article describes the process Doug Lemov used to distill the techniques in his book "Teach Like A Champion" and the similar process used by University of Michigan researcher Deborah Ball to isolate key content knowledge needed by classroom teachers. The article is useful to provide context for other resources.

Existing Training Programs

These links are the notes and interviews about existing programs. This is the semi-raw data that informed the core components above. Please add more sources and notes so the core components can be better refined.

  • Jen on City Year -- Jen, a college senior, volunteered full-time for a semester as a tutor and classroom assistant in Boston Public Schools through the Boston-based volunteer organization, City Year. The interview broadly covers the experience and her initial training.
  • Andrew on Teach For America -- Andrew, a recent college graduate, served full-time for a year as a teacher in TFA. The interview notes cover his recollection of the training process and how it prepared him for work in the classroom.
  • Tom on a public school district's hiring process -- Tom is in charge of hiring new teachers for a medium-sized school district. This interview discusses what he is looking for out of hiring candidates, which can be useful when deciding what elements of teachers are most valued by successful school districts. The notes also cover a small training program built into the school year for young teachers.
  • Ari on the MATCH Charter School in Boston -- Ari is a recent college graduate volunteering full-time as a tutor at MATCH during the 2010-2011 school year. These comprehensive notes outline many core aspects of the charter school to provide more context for their training program. Ari is headed to med school in the fall of 2011.
  • Alia on the MATCH tutor training program -- Alia was a volunteer in the first MATCH Corps seven years ago. Now she coordinates the tutor training program. Her thoughts on the training and how it prepares tutors are shared here.
  • The MATCH training binder -- complimenting the two interviews with people from the MATCH program, this is the cliff notes of the large binder all volunteers are given at the start of their training. It is useful when looking for an example of what materials trainees need to have printed and available to them.
  • Kayln on summer teaching at Explo -- Kayln taught engineering at a summer program in Wellesley, MA. Her interview talks about what she did, the training she received before and during the program, and what she learned about teaching.

Using this RTT Guide: Example Curriculum and Design Reflection

This is a sample curriculum designed to better prepare a small group of Olin College volunteers to tutor middle school math and science at a local charter school. The program was designed using the guide and core components above and iterated through participant feedback. Though this program is short (5 one-hour lunch sessions), it is a concrete example of how to translate the components into curriculum. This section also includes two reflections on the process of developing this training program and how it influenced the improvement of the program development guide (above).

Andy's AHS Capstone-Specific Links

The initial work for this project was completed by Andy Pethan for his Fall 2010 Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (AHS) Capstone project at Olin College of Engineering. These links point to project-specific deliverables.