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 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. The program is free of charge, and those who complete it receive a stipend and Act 48 professional development credits. Participating teachers (called Fellows) are encouraged to become leaders, sharing their curriculum ideas with peers and shaping the TIP program. 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.
Organizational Background & History
TIP is an affiliate of the Yale National initiative to strengthen teaching in the public schools, which began in 1978 with the creation of the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute. Penn Professor Rogers Smith brought the Institute model to Philadelphia in 2006, recruiting veteran SDP teacher and social science scholar Alan Lee to be Director. Lee steered the program through its early years, recruiting a core group of teachers and garnering the good will of the both the school district and Penn faculty members. Edward Epstein, who was himself a TIP seminar leader, took over as Director in 2016 when Lee retired, and has helped to grow the program, initiating a partnership with Temple University to expand its geographic reach and increasing the program’s annual enrollment.
The Yale New-Haven Model
The Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute has developed a unique model for improving teacher quality. At its heart are partnerships between institutions of higher education and public schools. Founder James Vivian pioneered a program that invited teachers in the New Haven public schools to take advantage of the world-class professors, lab facilities and library resources of Yale University. The seminars offered there enabled teachers to:
- Gain more sophisticated content knowledge
- Enhance their writing and oral presentation skills by preparing extensive curriculum/lesson plan units that adapt the themes of their seminar for their students
- Develop new enthusiasm for their teaching because they are teaching curriculum they have shaped
- Have higher expectations for their students as a result of having greater confidence in the curriculum they offer
- Better motivate students to learn.
Teachers Institutes offers reciprocal benefits to the university faculty who lead their seminars. These professors gain an opportunity to communicate their new knowledge to a broader public, improve university-community relations, and strengthen public schools in their own community. Many find that Institute teaching gives them a heightened sense of purpose in their own scholarship and research.