Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the Woodrow Wilson Academy of Teaching and Learning?
A: The Woodrow Wilson Academy of Teaching and Learning (WW Academy) is a graduate school of education that seeks to transform teacher preparation, creating a new model that readies teachers and school leaders to succeed in the diverse classrooms of today and to shape and lead the schools of tomorrow. Encompassing both a teacher preparation program and a research and development laboratory, the WW Academy will at the same time prepare educators, test the effectiveness of different approaches, and share its findings on an open-source basis with teacher preparation providers nationwide.
The WW Academy offers a competency-based master’s degree (M.Ed.) program. Its first degree offerings are aligned with the areas in which the nation most urgently needs strong educators—science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) for the middle and secondary grades, with an initial focus on math, biology, and chemistry. A school leader strand is also anticipated for later development. In 2017–18, a class of Design Fellows is beta-testing and refining the innovative WW Academy curriculum. The Academy will enroll its inaugural class in 2018.
Q: What should one expect from the WW Academy program?
A: The WW Academy provides all learners a program with the following components:
- A competency-based approach grounded in practice. The best learning happens when it is rooted in real-world problems. The WW Academy curriculum is designed in the form of challenges that mirror the real work of teachers. Teacher candidates progress through the Academy’s program by demonstrating the knowledge and skills that novice teachers need to be effective in the classroom. The challenges—based on teaching situations similar to the ones they will encounter as professionals—are designed for students to learn, practice, and demonstrate their abilities.
- Individualized instruction. Students learn best when they can proceed at their own pace, accelerating in some instances and taking more time in others. Because the WW Academy curriculum focuses on outcomes, candidates progress through the challenges based on their own readiness rather than a semester calendar. As teacher candidates work through the challenges, they receive ongoing feedback and guidance from faculty mentors who support their progress and tailor the learning and assessments to meet their needs.
- Blended curriculum. Sometimes technology supports learning; sometimes small-group work is instructive; and sometimes learners just have to practice techniques in a real-world setting. The WW Academy is creating a curriculum that offers all of these possibilities. The approach engages candidates in multiple ways to provide them with both knowledge and opportunities to practice their skills. Online experiences are complemented by collaborative projects with peers and in-person seminars, along with meetings with both Academy faculty and expert teachers at the schools where candidates do their practice teaching.
- Deep experience in schools. Great learning happens when practice is facilitated by reflection and support WW Academy’s teacher candidates are placed in a partner school in one of our partner districts even before the academic year begins and participate fully in the life of the school. Candidates benefit from the guidance of both school-based expert teachers and WW Academy faculty mentors as they integrate their learning in challenges with experience in actual classrooms.
- Mentoring after graduation. Even the best-prepared new teachers need guidance, so the WW Academy is committed to supporting graduates in their professional practice. Each WW Academy faculty mentor will have primarily responsibility for a small cohort of students not just during the program, but also for two years after graduation.
- Continuing innovation. Learning is most compelling when students play a role in developing the curriculum and is connected to a deeper sense of purpose. At the WW Academy, teacher candidates are not consumers of a degree program but co-developers of a model that is constantly being refined. The principle of students as co-designers is so fundamental to the WW Academy that in its first year, a pilot class of candidates—Design Fellows—is beta-testing and refining its curriculum.
Q: What credential will I earn from the WW Academy?
A: The WW Academy has been authorized by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to grant master’s degrees in education (M.Ed.) and to endorse teachers for licensure in Massachusetts in math, biology and chemistry grades 5-8, 6-12.
Q: How does the WW Academy compare to other teacher preparation programs?
A: Virtually all teacher preparation programs today require teacher candidates to complete a set number of credit hours in a set order. The WW Academy believes it is more important for aspiring teachers to both learn and demonstrate the knowledge necessary to be a beginning teacher. Instead of offering time-based courses tied to credit hours, the WW program is based on a series of teaching-based challenges that measure teaching ability. For the WW Academy, it is a matter of both knowing and doing.
The Academy’s personalized learning approach ensures that the focus is on the learner, empowering candidates who complete the curriculum to lead current and future classrooms where they can emphasize individualized learning and the needs and preferences of the student.
Q: Is this an online program?
A: No. The WW Academy recognizes that effective teaching requires strong face-to-face learning and practice. Our degree program is specially designed to provide a mix of in-person and online experiences, with individual learners determining the approaches that work best for them, their learning styles, and their educational goals. In-person requirements include a clinical placement in one of the WW Academy’s partner school districts, and participation in a regular practicum seminar and studio session.
Q: How long does it take to complete the program?
A: The WW Academy believes that a clock or calendar is an ineffective tool for measuring whether one is prepared to become a teacher of record. The WW program is competency-based, allowing each teacher candidate to progress at his or her own pace. Just as no two teachers are identical, the path to completion will differ based on the candidate. Candidates are eligible for graduation and licensure once they have completed all challenges and demonstrated proficiency with each competency as evidenced in a capstone portfolio.
Q: What can I expect in the two years of support after I complete the program?
A: The WW Academy is committed to ensuring that every new teacher who earns the M.Ed. has the help and support needed to succeed as a teacher of record. The WW Academy provides two years of mentoring, and a peer network to ensure that all Academy alumni progress through long and successful teaching careers.
Q: What does a typical week look like for a WW Academy student?
A: There is nothing “typical” about the WW Academy and its approach. A standard week will be adapted to the individual learner and his or her needs and pursuits. Each teacher candidate should expect a regular schedule of demonstration, clinical experience, collaboration, feedback, and assessment.
Q: What is MIT’s role in the WW Academy?
A: The WW Academy and MIT are working together to develop the challenge-based curriculum, assessments, and learning resources (including teaching games and simulations) that the WW Academy offers. Academy students and faculty also have access to a wide range of MIT resources, but will not receive an MIT degree.
Q: What school districts is the WW Academy currently partnering with?
A: The WW Academy currently has partnership agreements with the public school districts in Burlington, Cambridge, Natick, Revere, and Somerville (MA). WW Academy teacher candidates will gain clinical experiences working in one of the partner school districts. We are regularly looking for new partner districts to join the effort. Interested schools or districts should contact the WW Academy.
Q: How much does the degree program cost?
A: The WW Academy believes in a holistic approach to tuition, and expects to set tuition at $10,000 for those beginning the program in 2018. That is not the tuition for a semester or academic year, as one would find at other institutions. Instead, it is a flat fee for completion of the program.
Q: How does the WW Academy balance academic content and teaching pedagogy?
A: The WW Academy recognizes that successful teachers must master both academic content and instructional pedagogy. The Academy’s competencies reflect both of these areas, and challenges have been constructed to measure a teacher candidate’s ability in both. All WW Academy students are expected to bring some STEM (science-technology-engineering-math) knowledge to the program, acquired either through an undergraduate degree or career experience. That content knowledge is then strengthened throughout the program.
Q: What resources does the WW Academy make available to its students?
A: The WW Academy staff has carefully curated a library of multimedia resources aligned to individual competencies and challenges. This online library—available to all WW Academy students, both as they go through the program and after they complete it—can be accessed 24/7. WW Academy faculty, staff and students curate and update these resources to reflect the latest research in content areas, teaching, and clinical sciences. In addition, all WW Academy students will have access to MIT library and online resources.
Q: Where is the WW Academy physically located?
A: The WW Academy is located at 24 Thorndike St., in Cambridge, MA, within easy walking distance of Kendall Square and MIT. WW Academy faculty and staff are based in our Cambridge office. Teacher candidates will pursue their clinical placements in nearby partner districts. The WW Academy also draws on the expertise and resources of its parent organization, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation based in Princeton, New Jersey.
Q: How do I apply to the WW Academy?
A: You can apply through this online application. The inaugural class of WW Academy students will be carefully selected from among the top teacher candidates throughout the country and will join the ranks of the nearly 23,000 Woodrow Wilson Fellows named over the past seven decades, a group that currently includes 14 Nobel Laureates, 38 MacArthur Fellows, 19 Pulitzer Prize winners, and hundreds of other distinguished individuals. To learn more about the application process, contact Neema Ndiba, Woodrow Wilson program assistant for recruitment, at [email protected].