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About TIP


Beginning with the idea that intellectually engaged teachers produce better results in the classroom, the Teachers Institute of Philadelphia (TIP) enables public school teachers to expand their knowledge base through university-level study and research. TIP aims to bring new content classroom teaching, increase expectations for student achievement and raise teacher morale in the public schools. 

What We Do

TIP enables public school teachers from around Philadelphia to enroll in semester-long seminars taught by University of Pennsylvania professors. During the seminars, teachers engage intensively with a topic that is on the cutting-edge of knowledge in the sciences, arts, humanities or social sciences, and write an original curriculum unit based on what they have learned. Teachers then implement their units in the classroom and share them with their colleagues through an online curriculum repository. Participating teachers (called Fellows) are encouraged to become leaders by recruiting others for the program, acting as peer mentors and suggesting new seminar topics. We enroll a select group of our Fellows in National Seminars every summer at our parent institution, the Yale National Initiative, where they undertake additional study and curriculum writing in a two-week intensive program. Evaluation studies have shown that the Teachers Institute approach improves teacher morale, boosts teachers’ expectations of students, and promotes deeper passion for learning by both teacher and student alike.

The Yale New-Haven Model

TIP follows a model developed by the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute in 1978, and is affiliated with the Yale National Initiative to Strengthen Teaching in Public Schools (YNI). At its heart are partnerships between institutions of higher education and public schools. In the YNI model, teachers enroll in semester-long seminars led by university faculty, on topics the teachers have selected to enhance their mastery of what they teach. 

The seminars significantly strengthen teachers in all five of the major dimensions that research has shown to be key to teacher quality. Participating teachers 1) gain more sophisticated content knowledge; 2) enhance their writing and oral presentation skills by preparing extensive curriculum/lesson plan units that adapt the themes of their seminar for their students; 3) gain new enthusiasm for their teaching because they are teaching curriculum they have shaped; 4) gain higher expectations for their students because they have more confidence in what they offering them; and 5) most important, they succeed better in motivating all students to learn.

Because the Institute approach relies on a network of Teacher Representatives in the participating schools to generate seminar topics and help direct the program, and because it uses teachers as Seminar Coordinators to assist faculty leading seminars, it also helps develop teacher leadership skills and promotes better communication among district teachers. It also helps many university faculty to see themselves as partners in improving public education, and to reinforce cooperation between the university and the public schools.

Structure of TIP Seminars

The range of topics presented each year will be expansive and interdisciplinary, covering content from English literature, natural and social sciences, mathematics, humanities and the arts, in response to the requests of the teachers. Teacher Representatives canvass teachers for their opinions on topics, and relay that information to TIP.

During the course of the seminar, the Seminar Leader meets with each Fellow individually to shape and guide the development of the curriculum unit. A significant portion of each two-hour seminar is devoted to interactive presentations and discussions of the curricular material and its adaptations for classroom use. At the conclusion of the seminar series, each Fellow completes a 15- to 25-page curriculum unit based on seminar content, individual research, and feedback from fellow participants and the Seminar Leader.

Curriculum units are shared with colleagues in schools as well as made available on TIP's website for reference and use by teachers everywhere, at no cost. TIP also provides links to a larger database of curricular materials from YNI affiliates in other cities, and the YNI's summer Institute.