Since 1978, the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute (YNHTI) has developed a unique model for improving teacher quality. At its heart are partnerships between institutions of higher education and public schools. YNHTI offers five to seven seminars each year, led by university faculty, on topics the teachers have selected to enhance their mastery of what they teach. The seminars meet 14 times in a period running from late March through early July. The seminars significantly strengthen teachers in all five of the major dimensions that research has shown to be key to teacher quality.
In the seminars the 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.