TEACHNOW, a startup that prepares teachers for the classroom, has hired one of the country’s top education deans to expand its efforts in preparing 10,000 new teachers through 2020.
TEACHNOW implements a problem-based, collaborative approach in its teacher preparation programs. The Office of the State Superintendent of Education of the District of Columbia has awarded TEACHNOW higher education status, and the organization will now offer two 12-month Master’s programs.
Founded in 2011 by Emily Feistritzer, the TEACHNOW Educatore School of Education offers teacher certification programs with 600 candidates in 42 states and 50 countries enrolled in its programs.
TEACHNOW has hired Dr. Philip A. Schmidt, the former dean of one of the largest teacher preparation programs in the U.S. Together with Dr. Emily Feistritzer, TEACHNOW seeks to expands its training program offerings to more candidates in the United States and beyond.
The teacher preparation alternative to traditional certifications is designed to enable successful candidates to get a teaching license in most states in any curriculum area and at all education levels.
“TEACHNOW is the only cohort-based, activity-based, collaborative model for teacher education that addresses what teaching is and was meant to be—a truly collaborative profession,” Dr. Schmidt said.
TEACHNOW’s teacher preparation program follows a project-based learning-to-teach approach in which candidates in small groups complete modules one at a time as a group and collaborate and learn through virtual meetings and discussions. The approach emphasizes interaction among teachers and instructor, the startup says.
As TEACHNOW states, the program lets students ‘learn in the way they plan to teach’. Other than that, the program offers essential teaching preparation modules including the learning and practice of pedagogical strategies and a deep understanding of schools and students.
Through the program teachers become acquainted with technology so that they can use it as comfortably as their students. The candidates create infographics, produce videos and complete other tech-based activities. Getting teachers in training familiar with technology is a major focus in TEACHNOW’s programs. As Feistritzer says:
“We now have a model that has been tested around the world that is creating a new kind of teacher—not disseminators of knowledge or techniques—but who are resource-rich diagnosticians who know their students, help them learn and develop, and dig deep into a broad repertoire of ever-expanding best practices and tools. They use technology like the digital natives they teach.”
To ensure every teacher gets the attention they need, the program implements a 12:1 candidate-to-instructor ratio, which TEACHNOW feels is the optimal ratio because it:
“[Provides] students with a cohort large enough to promote shared learning across a diverse group of students and small enough to ensure that instructors and candidates all know each other well.”
The nine-month certification program costs $6,000 and the new 12-month Master’s degree costs $13,000. According to TEACHNOW, 93 out of 100 candidates graduate from the program, with 77% of students being in their 20s and 30s.
According to Feistritzer, the brevity of the preparation program ensures that schools can ‘meet pressing needs in shortage areas’. She adds that TEACHNOW graduates are rated highly by their principals.