Visionary Teaching Fellowship Program
Offered by Calhoun and 3 Partner Schools
The Progressive Education Lab was founded by The Calhoun School in collaboration with three other leading progressive schools. The fellowship program is geared to recent college graduates.
Funded in part by a $250,000 leadership grant from the Edward E. Ford Foundation, The Progressive Education Lab (PEL) is a two-year training program that provides a dynamic, experience-based training not typically found at traditional university-based education programs. Its first cohort of students began in August 2012.
The multi-site program takes place at the four founding schools: The Calhoun School in New York City; The Cambridge School of Weston, Weston, MA; The Putney School in Putney, VT; and The Unquowa School in Fairfield, CT. Teaching fellows begin the program with a four-day summer orientation, followed by a 10-month rotation among the four schools for hands-on experience with teacher mentors. For the second year, each of the students is offered a paid internship at one of the four participating schools.
In addition to the varied environments of the schools—day and boarding, urban and rural, upper and lower schools—each offers a unique experience in terms of teaching and learning approaches: fellows learn about integrated studies at CSW, project-based learning at Putney, the city as school at Calhoun, and museum collaboration at Unquowa.
PEL joins a national movement to pull teacher training into elementary, middle and secondary schools, where fellows have access to master teachers and in-class training. Currently, a majority of traditional teacher training takes place at colleges and universities—away from the classrooms and the environments where the teachers will actually teach; school leaders often find that this kind of training creates a disconnect between theory and practice. The founding members of PEL wanted to find ways for progressive schools to take the lead on teacher education that would not only train new teachers but strengthen teaching at each of their schools. Progressive education, they point out, demands deep subject-matter knowledge and creative child-centered and inquiry-based pedagogy.
In an era dominated by scripted classrooms, canned curricula and standardized measures of learning, the educators note that this collective investment in an alternative model for teacher training is both important and timely. "PEL represents an extraordinary opportunity to examine progressive education in a truly immersive way, and to empower aspiring teachers to thoroughly explore a variety of progressive schools and settings,” says Lorenzo Krakowsky, Calhoun's Upper School Director.