At the beginning of the 2018-19 school year, Bank Street’s Graduate School of Education and School for Children co-launched the Literacy Fellows program, a unique new fellowship opportunity that places select graduate students as part-time reading instructors for School for Children students in the 6/7s and 7/8s.
Led by Emily Schottland, GSE ’07, literacy specialist at the School for Children, the program was developed with a dual purpose in mind: to provide the School for Children with highly-qualified, skilled reading teachers and to further prepare graduate students to develop their clinical practice as reading specialists.
“The Literacy Fellows program is a wonderful example of collaboration between the School for Children and the Graduate School,” said Schottland. “Knowing that there’s always a need for well trained teachers and always a need to provide meaningful and purposeful teaching and learning opportunities for graduate students, the program has been a successful and productive partnership for everyone.”
This is not the first time the Graduate School and School for Children have worked together. The schools often partner for the student teaching program, which places graduate students as teaching aids in School for Children classrooms for their graduate fieldwork, as well as the associate teacher program, which employs graduate students full-time at the School for Children. According to Schottland, the Literacy Fellows program differs in that it employs two notable students enrolled in the Reading & Literacy program who already have a deep understanding of content knowledge and reading instruction.
The Fellows are fully immersed in the entire teaching process: they plan, teach, assess, and reflect as well as complete progress reports, meet with parents, and attend school-wide literacy meetings. The Fellows regularly meet with groups of students multiple times a week to strengthen foundational reading skills, including phonics, word recognition, decoding, comprehension, and fluency to help students build their skills and develop a love for reading.
“The Reading & Literacy Programs at Bank Street integrate theories about language development with fieldwork in both classrooms and the clinical settings where reading specialists work,” said Lynne Einbender, director of the Reading & Literacy Programs at the Bank Street Graduate School of Education. “The Literacy Fellows program offers our advanced students the opportunity to apprentice with an experienced reading specialist and deepen their understanding of teaching and learning.”
The Literacy Fellows program has made a great impact on the Bank Street community, including teachers, graduate students and, most importantly, the children. Schottland noted that an increase in teachers has allowed for the creation of smaller, more differentiated reading groups based on students’ reading abilities and areas for improvement, which effectively bring children to the next step in their learning and development.
“The program has strengthened my expertise in reading instruction and allowed me to grow as an educator,” said Abigail Caumartin, Literacy Fellow at the School for Children.
“The opportunity to autonomously teach and reflect on practice under the guidance of an experienced educator has transformed my teaching and greatly contributed to the progress of my students,” added Samantha Segal, Literacy Fellow at the School for Children.
The year-long fellowship is set to conclude at the end of the school year with plans for next year to be determined.