Starting Cohort 10 of the NYC Teaching Collaborative and SBS-I

In which I formally begin my journey as a pre-service special education teacher in the NYC DOE.

I wrote this post as I was wrapping up my second week of the Collaborative, but it fell to the side for a bit as I got busy with skill building sessions (SBS) and starting my field placement. The program began in mid-January with SBS’s, and the field experience component began on Friday January 28th with orientation.

It’s been an incredibly busy two weeks. On Monday January 17th, my fellow cohort members and I attended the welcome event for the NYC Teaching Collaborative’s 10th anniversary cohort. This event officially marked the start of our journey as Partner Teachers (PT’s) in the program.

Logistically, the program begins with two weeks of skill building sessions known as SBS-Intensive. These two weeks consist of daily weekday sessions from 5pm – 7pm, where we attended sessions facilitated by a Lead Instructor who is also an educator in the DOE. The sessions have continued since then, gradually sinking down to two days and lastly one day per week with an extra session. The program front-loads many of the essential skills a new teacher needs, such as building relationships with students and giving clear directions, and looking back I think that my foundation from SBS-I gave me a solid foundation that I continue to build on in my field experience.

At the time that I applied for the program, PT’s were originally slated to begin graduate school in January ’22. However, feedback from previous program participants reflected that juggling grad school alongside the SBS’s and field experience proved to be quite a lot, and I suppose the program is trying to alleviate some of that stress by holding off on grad school until after we finish these components of the program. It was later confirmed that our cohort is slated to begin graduate coursework during the summer session of universities across the city — I myself will begin the MSEd in Adolescent Special Education – Generalist program at Hunter College in late May.

Because skill-building sessions started two weeks before field experience, it worked out in my favor that I was able to continue serving as a substitute teacher because the school day didn’t clash with my afternoon obligations to attend SBS from 5pm-7pm. Those extra two weeks of subbing allowed me to add a solid chunk of change to my savings account — quite important given that we have a program stipend of $6,500. Partner Teachers were originally budgeted to receive a $6,000 stipend, but the Collaborative decided to award everyone a $500 technology stipend since many aspects of the program are virtual this year.

I came into the program knowing that a lot of things would be pre-determined for us, namely: the teaching license that we would earn, the graduate program that we would be attending, and the site where we will be completing our field experience/student teaching. For me, all three of these happened to work out in my favor. I expected/wanted to be assigned Students With Disabilities (7-12) Generalist as my license area, and I’m pretty happy with my grad school placement and field experience site. That being said, not everyone was as thrilled as I was. The Collaborative does have an appeals process for each step of the program, but they make it pretty clear that appeals are only granted for extenuating circumstances.

As I write this post, I’ve wrapped up two weeks of the SBS-Intensive part of the program, I had orientation at my field placement today, and I’m excited to hit the ground running on Monday to see where this journey will take me. When they called it SBS-Intensive, they really meant the intensive part. I learned a lot during these two weeks of daily sessions, and I feel like I have a solid foundation that I’ll continue to build on throughout my time in the program.