Key Coverage

As Apprentices in Classroom, Teachers Learn What Works

The idea is that teachers, like doctors in medical residencies, need to practice repeatedly with experienced supervisors before they can be responsible for classes on their own. At Aspire [Public Schools], mentors believe that the most important thing that novice teachers need to master is the seemingly unexciting — but actually quite complex — task of managing a classroom full of children. Once internalized, the thinking goes, such skills make all the difference between calm and bedlam, and can free teachers to focus on student learning.

With its lengthy and intense mentorship, the Aspire model, one of a number of such programs emerging across the country, is a radical departure from traditional teacher training, which tends to favor theory over practice.

Over the last school year, The New York Times dipped into the classrooms where three residents trained, witnessing their choppy road through setbacks and successes.