Recruiting Coordinator, Hannah Perkins, works hard year-round to make sure that Practice Makes Perfect’s summer program is nothing less than a complete success. Though PMP runs for only 5 weeks, it takes months before the summer to assure that every single Teaching Fellow is fit to perfection; from their ability to teach and lead a classroom to their desire and drive to make an impact for at-risk youth. After months of preparation, Hannah is just a couple of days away from launching the Teaching Fellow applications. I sat down with Hannah to get a better understanding of what exactly it is that she is looking for in the future hires, and what would make them the most successful candidates for the position.
What is the Teaching Fellow position?
- Practice Makes Perfect pairs academically struggling students with higher achieving mentors from their same neighborhoods and places them under the supervision of college interns and certified teachers for a five week academic intensive summer program. These college interns are what we at PMP call our Teaching Fellows. The Teaching Fellowship is one of the most rewarding and rigorous experiences available to college students across the country. This paid fellowship will prepare individuals for a career in education while also teach skills such as leadership, communication, and perseverance that are transferable to any profession.
How many positions do you have open now?
- As of right now we have 20 positions available for summer 2016. But, we see this number doubling within the next few months as we continue to partner with schools across New York City.
What are the qualifications for the position?
- Any current junior or senior undergraduate or graduate student is eligible for the Fellow position, with all majors accepted. They need to have:
- 3.0 GPA or higher
- Interest in teaching
- Some experience working with children, preferably in an academic setting (student teaching experience a plus, but not necessary)
Why is the position not open to college freshmen and sophomores?
- When our program was in its beginning stages, it was available to freshmen and sophomores. But, we soon realized that they were not quite ready for this experience; they were not as successful in the role and their classes didn't have the best outcomes. Because our program is challenging and intensive, we want to make sure that the teachers who are teaching our classes are ready and equipped for such an experience. They need to be able to handle a rigorous environment-- a full job preview of teaching in an inner-city. We concluded that having more experience and being a bit more mature creates better outcomes for all parties. It is better for us in terms of results, but also the Teaching Fellows tended to get more out of the program when they enter with more experience, maturity, and professionalism. The scholars in-turn reap the benefits of having a more able teacher.
What if a student wants to apply for the TF position but does not plan to pursue a degree in education? What if they don’t have any experience in the field?
- I would definitely encourage everyone to apply - we will definitely be open to non-education degrees or candidates that may not have professional experience with teaching. PMP provides a rigorous 45 hours of training, prior to the start of the program, which will prepare all Fellows to be confident and successful in the classroom. I also believe, more than experience, is important to be passionate about education and working with youth in inner-city communities. We want our Fellows to have the drive to make a difference over the summer.
- Even if Fellows aren’t selected for a position in summer 2016, having an application on file will definitely be beneficial for a future position with our organization. We will make note of your eagerness, excitement and desire to be a part of what we are doing. If we don’t have a position for you this year, we will offer suggestions on how to gain the experience that will help you be successful in this role, and hope to see you reapply next year.
How does this program prepare the TFs for their future position in education?
- There really isn’t a training program or an internship program that gives a full job preview of working as a teacher in a high needs community. With one week of rigorous training, and the 5-week program, PMP Teaching Fellows receive a total of 6 week of hands-on teaching experience, all supported and guided by a NYC certified teacher. During the program, Fellows not only prepare and lead lessons, they create and implement a behaviour management system, and become a role model to the scholars and mentors in their classroom. At the end of the program, Fellows leave with a full resource library of materials and tools useful to their future teaching career, and an experience necessary to be a confident leader and grow as a future educator.
How competitive is the program to be apart of?
- I would say that it is competitive, because there aren’t many programs that offer teaching opportunities like ours for college students, so naturally we do get a lot of interest in this position. The unique nature of the program usually draws a lot of interest to our organization.
When is the best time to apply?
- Our applications are available November 15th-February 29th, making final decisions on March 15th. Although applications will be accepted through the end of February, I encourage you to apply as soon as possible. We do review applications throughout the open application period.
What do you look for in candidates?
- Besides the more concrete qualifications, I stress the importance of drive and perseverance of candidates who want to be a part of what we are doing. Working in inner-city neighborhoods is not always easy; Teaching Fellows will be working daily with students to overcome some tough situations, and thus it is necessary to have a certain passion and drive in order to create positive relationships, and in turn positive results. Also, we want our Fellows to be really excited! We want our teachers to come in and be enthusiastic for the summer and for the program. Some of the scholars that are in the program might not be exactly excited to be in “summer school,” so we want our teachers to help create an excitement for summer learning, and overall change that negative stigma around summer school.
I hope this gave you a better understanding of Practice Makes Perfect’s Teaching Fellow positions, and what is required to be successful in this role. PMP is eager to find young adults who are passionate about teaching and truly want to make a difference in the world. Find out more information about our program and the position here: practicemakesperfect.org/summer