A new program coming to University at Buffalo's Graduate School of Education aims to recruit teachers who want to work in city schools, prepare them to handle the unique challenges in those settings and provide supports so those teachers stick around.
Amanda Winkelsas, director of UB's Urban Teacher Residency Program, points out challenges unique to city schools like language barriers between teachers and students from a wide variety of countries.
"When teachers aren't prepared to know how to work with that linguistic diversity or capitalize on that linguistic diversity, teachers can feel frustrated," she said.
Instead of the traditional 15 week student teacher method, this program will put prospective teachers in Buffalo classrooms for an entire academic year.
"So they're not just watching a teacher teach," Suzanne Rosenblith explained. She is dean of the Graduate School of Education. "They're co-teaching alongside this person who has shown some expertise."
Students who are accepted into the program will get tuition support and a stipend to help with living costs. It is meant to entice strong candidates who may have been hesitant to go into teaching due to financial barriers.
Part of the deal requires those students to stay on as teachers in Buffalo Public Schools for three years after completing their residency.
By specifically focusing on urban education and preparing these teachers to understand challenges like linguistic diversity, poverty or high suspension rates, the thought is more prepared teachers are less likely to "burn out" and leave the profession.
"Those students will have more positive experiences in school and teachers will feel like they're more effective," Winkelsas said.
"That means not just being able to teach math or teach reading, but also understand who the students are and what they're coming to school with," Dean Rosenblith said.
A donation from the Cullen Foundation helps pay for the program. UB plans to kick off with the first wave of prospective teachers next year.