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TNTP Teaching Fellows

Why Teaching Fellows?

You believe all students can learn. We give you the skills to prove it.

Our Mission

Our Mission - Why Teaching Fellows - TNTP Teaching Fellows

We are training a generation of great teachers who believe that change starts in the classroom.

We prepare exceptional teachers for the students who need them most – those in our country’s most disadvantaged communities, where too many children start school behind and struggle to catch up.

Our teachers acknowledge the immense challenges of poverty but reject its limitations. They believe that every lesson has the power to inspire, every hour in the classroom is precious, and every student has the potential to succeed. They know that having even one top teacher can shape students’ lives well into the future.

It’s not easy to defy the odds, and great teaching doesn’t happen overnight. Our teachers develop the skills to hit the ground running on day one and have the passion to continue improving for years to come.

Our programs aren’t for everyone. We believe teaching is a privilege and we hold the highest standards of any training program in America. But those who rise to meet them join an elite group of educators, more than 35,000 strong. Together they are proving the transformative power of great teaching, and proving what’s possible in public education. We call them Teaching Fellows.

How it Works

We transform accomplished professionals and college graduates into excellent teachers. 

TNTP Teaching Fellows is a rigorous alternative certification program that recruits and trains talented career changers and recent college graduates to be outstanding teachers in high-need schools across the country. 

Here’s how it works:

  • You choose where you want to teach. We have programs in Baltimore, DC, Indiana, Michigan, Nashville, Nevada, New York City and New Orleans.
  • Once accepted, you’ll begin an intensive summer training program to learn the fundamentals of great teaching. Every day, expert educators will help you master critical teaching skills—skills you’ll practice in real classrooms, with real students.
  • After successfully completing summer training and securing a teaching position at a local school, you will begin teaching full-time, earning a full teacher’s salary.
  • Throughout the year, you will be enrolled in TNTP Academy. Depending on your specific setting, you may be enrolled in an in-person or a virtual program. No matter which format you end up in, you will receive personalized virtual or in-person coaching and helpful feedback about your performance. You will also participate in seminars, either in-person or online, to help you master more advanced teaching techniques. 
  • If you prove after training that you have what it takes to be a great teacher, we will recommend you for certification—a high standard not all candidates reach. Graduating from our program signals you are a certified teacher with a proven record.

Our Training

Our training is radically simple: focused practice on key skills to get new teachers off to a strong start.

Each great teacher is unique, but all do certain basic things well. Our training hones those essentials, starting with core skills in summer pre-service training. In the fall, Fellows begin teaching and learning advanced techniques, which they can apply the next day in class, through evening seminars or virtual learning modules. At every step, we emphasize:

INTENSIVE CLASSROOM PRACTICE: Where traditional teacher preparation leaves little time for hands-on skill-building, our innovative training is centered around actual teaching experience and focused practice on core skills, such as creating a positive classroom culture and delivering content clearly. Teaching Fellows train like professional athletes, with ample opportunity to practice, reflect, and improve, until essential teaching techniques become second nature.

EXPERT COACHING: You can’t improve if you don’t know how you are doing. Beginning in summer training and continuing throughout your first year, our expert coaches provide constructive feedback to help you grow quickly. All coaches are experienced teachers with a strong record of success. You will open your classroom to your coach regularly, either through classroom visits or through video you record, allowing them to see you in action, and provide actionable guidance and concrete strategies to apply in future lessons.

PERSONALIZED TRAINING: We set clear expectations and continually assess your progress as a new teacher, identifying areas of growth and customizing coursework to address those needs. Whether you are struggling with lesson planning or striving to improve your classroom management skills, we tailor our support and training to help you quickly get up to speed in that area.

Our Standards

Leap Year: Assessing and Supporting Effective First-Year Teachers

Read about our high bar for new teachers.

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We make teacher certification count. It’s a high bar – and an honor.

Teachers who make a strong start are more likely to remain successful over time. Yet most schools and preparation programs treat a teacher's first year like a warm-up, paying little attention to actual classroom performance.

Not us. We award certification only to new teachers who demonstrate mastery of instructional skills and a consistent ability to help their students learn and thrive.

Beginning in pre-service training and continuing through your first year, we carefully assess and support your growth, considering a variety of evidence from your classroom to ensure you are developing critical skills and are on track to become a great teacher. At every step, you will know how you are doing and what you need to do to improve.

We hold the highest standards for certification of any program in the country, and not everyone meets them. But by setting a high bar and supporting rapid growth, we ensure that all Teaching Fellows enter the classroom ready to make a strong start and a lifetime of difference for the students who need them most.  

As a graduate of our program, principals and district officials will know that you are not simply a certified teacher, but one with a proven track record of classroom success.

Our Teachers

​Our teachers are committed to excellence – from their students and from themselves.

Extraordinary responsibility requires extraordinary people. Our Teaching Fellows understand that teaching is not just a job, but a career – one that demands their best each day.

We look for accomplished professionals and recent graduates who aren’t yet certified as educators, but who possess the skills and knowledge to teach high-need subjects.  In 2014, about 40 percent of Teaching Fellows taught special education, 15 percent taught science, 10 percent taught math and 8 percent taught bilingual education.

We only accept applicants who have what it takes to become great teachers. In 2014, just 10 percent of all applicants successfully met our standards for admission, training and entry into the classroom. 

  • Take ownership. They embrace their responsibility to ensure that every last student excels academically.
  • Crave feedback. They seek out and welcome advice from instructors, coaches and peers, whether in a virtual or in-person setting.
  • Commit to practice. They take an active role in their own growth, and work deliberately to perfect new teaching techniques.
  • Embrace challenges. They meet the realities of a high-need school with determination, optimism and thoughtful solutions.
  • Connect with students. They motivate and challenge young people, inspiring achievement and a real love of learning.

Meet a Teacher

Meet Armando

Meet Henry

Meet Shira

Armando graduated from Wayland Baptist University with a degree in Health Sciences. Growing up in Texas, Armando envisioned himself as a teacher, but when he reached college, he thought it would be more practical to become a physical therapist. As he began his career, he found himself questioning that choice. In 2012, Fort Worth Teaching Fellows enabled Armando to follow his heart into the classroom, where he finds purpose sharing his science expertise with students at Benbrook Middle School: “You’re dead tired at the end of the day, but your students’ eyes are wide open and that’s something to hang your hat on.”

FORT WORTH TEACHING FELLOWS GAVE ME A MISSION

I was so lucky to go through Fort Worth Teaching Fellows. I’m leaps and bounds ahead of where I would have been because of the training, which prepared me specifically to help students who have behavior issues or who are reading at a very low grade level.

My coach set the standard for how to teach. She had amazing energy and was a perfect example of what a skillful teacher looks like. By the end of summer, I was ready to create a positive classroom culture and set high expectations from day one.

I also knew to set ambitious goals for all students to earn at least 85 percent on our district assessment. Because of that goal, my school was among the top three in the district.

MY JOB IS TO TEACH STUDENTS SCIENCE AND HOW TO BECOME GOOD PEOPLE

You think that you’re ready for teaching, but all of a sudden you’re responsible for 140 children!

It’s challenging, but I love that middle school students are so malleable. You can mold and influence them in a positive way, so that when they get to high school they have a strong work ethic, morals and integrity. That’s important to me. My job is not only to teach my students science, but how to become good citizens and good people.

"Fort Worth is a big city, but it’s got a homey feeling, like a mom-and-pop town.

You have an opportunity to live a slower paced life and it’s right next to Dallas, too.

I chose to stay here because of the atmosphere. This is where I belong."

Henry teaches fifth and sixth grade math and serves as the math department chair at Brick Church College Prep, in Nashville. He earned a dual degree in Applied Physics and Mechanical Engineering, interned at NASA, and spent five years as a technology analyst at Accenture before joining Nashville Teaching Fellows in 2011. Inspired by his stint as a middle school math tutor, Henry shifted his career to the classroom to serve as a “role model and symbol of hope” for other young African-American students and to show all young students that they can excel in math and science.

SUMMER TRAINING TEACHES YOU TO SET HIGH EXPECTATIONS

Your classroom has to be a safe place for students to take risks. The classroom management techniques you learn in summer training let the students know what you expect of them, and that’s when you get academic growth.

I had a student this year who was behind and scared to even try. She would write “I don’t know” on her paper, and that was on good days. Once we grouped her with others closer to her level, she just blossomed and eventually began to help other students with their work.

When she began teaching others, she saw the transformation in herself. She told me that since she’s been in our school, it’s changed her whole life.

IT’S AN AMAZING TIME TO BE TEACHING IN NASHVILLE

Nashville has that sense of community that other cities may not, and you feel like your students have pride in their city and community. Nashville is at the cutting edge of education reform. In Nashville, you get the chance to be a part of history and try something new.

"When you make it through pre-service training, you’ll definitely be prepared.

Will your first year be perfect? No. But it’s awesome training with awesome people.

The program staff is 100 percent dedicated to your becoming an effective teacher, and they’ll get you where you need to be."

A former mechanical engineer, Shira joined DC Teaching Fellows in 2004. Today, she teaches geometry and calculus and chairs the math department at McKinley Technology High School, which has become one of the district's top-performing schools. As a 2011 DCPS Teacher of the Year, 2011 Milken Educator Award winner, and namesake of TNTP’s Fishman Prize for Superlative Classroom Practice, Shira regularly shares her experiences with policymakers, but there is still nothing she’d rather do than challenge “fun and fascinating teenagers” to grasp difficult math concepts.

NOTHING COMPARES TO THE IMPACT YOU CAN HAVE IN YOUR CLASSROOM

When I think about why I love what I do, it’s the time spent with students. My best days come when I see that light bulb and feel their enthusiasm at understanding a difficult concept – that’s what keeps me coming back.

Your relationship with students is critical – they have to trust you as a person and trust that you know your content. If that’s in place, they will be much more receptive, especially when you push them.

You need to anticipate where misconceptions will occur and avoid those pitfalls. But I do want students to stumble occasionally, so that they talk through their struggles with each other and with me – that sometimes leads to deeper understanding.

STANDARDS ARE HIGH AND THAT IS GOOD FOR KIDS AND TEACHERS

Standards to become a DC Teaching Fellow are very high. It’s harder to get in the door these days, but that’s good for kids. When someone is a Fellow, I know they’re a quality teacher.

The evaluation system for teachers in DC also sets high expectations and can be stressful, but teachers have raised their game and are genuinely growing. Teachers collaborate more and make more effort to see each other at work.

Even after nine years, I am absolutely still learning – good feedback is invaluable. There’s nervousness when someone comes in your classroom, but that’s part of what we do. Every teacher can always get better.

"Leaving my career as an engineer and entering the classroom was one of the hardest decisions of my life, but I haven’t had a single second of regret about it."