Peace Corps China – Teaching future teachers

Volunteers teach college-level English in China’s interior for two years, including a summer of intense training. Livable monthly stipend, top-notch health benefits, Mandarin language education, network of other volunteers throughout the Southwest.

Peace Corps’s China program is one of my alma maters, and is a recruitment priority right now for Peace Corps. So I am sneaking it in as part of this week’s focus on teaching corps. Read about Peace Corps’s education programs more broadly.

Next week (Nov. 8th) my friend and China RPCV Kate Kuykendall, a public affairs specialist for the L.A. recruitment office, will host an Online Info Session about Peace Corps China that you can tune into for even more information.

A word about teaching English

The notion of teaching English doesn’t seem as glam as other overseas volunteer assignments like business or public health.

Chinese lecture hall, by Alison

Chinese lecture hall, by Alison

But English is a skill that people from the United States tend to have, and that other countries want for their youth. If you are looking to contribute to the development of other countries and build the capacity of young people there, English is a skill you can export and feel good about.

The other thing about teaching English is that right from the start of your term, before you can speak well in their language, your students can serve as insightful cultural informants to help you navigate your new life. Read about teaching English in China with Peace Corps.

Pre-service training

Trainees in the China program live in homestays during the two months of pre-service training, learn how to effectively teach English to large groups of students, study Chinese language in small groups with exceptional teachers, learn how to stay healthy (i.e., don’t drink unboiled water, what to do in case of unmentionable stomach ailments, etc.), receive scheduled immunization shots, and at the end of the summer, are sworn in as Peace Corps Volunteers.

Placement

Volunteers serve in teachers colleges in the interior of China, and teach classes of 40-60 students at a time.

English library, photo by Alison

English library, photo by Alison

Subjects  include English literacy, conversation, and  British and U.S. literature and culture.  The work week includes several courses, office hours, and often a teacher-hazing ritual called “English Corner.” Students typically come from very poor, rural areas, with plans to return home to teach English at the middle-school level. Colleges in China are more likely to be in cities, so China placements tend to be urban, where Volunteers live rent-free in modestly furnished campus apartments. Read some basics about living in China.

Benefits

A large Chinese kitchen, photo by Alison

A large Chinese kitchen, photo by Alison

Benefits of Peace Corps service — other than that your understanding of the world is enriched forever — include airfare to and from your country of service, health care (including prescription and over the counter medicines, yearly exams, evacuation home if the medical attention you need is not available in-country), a monthly stipend that is on par with that of locals, two vacation days per month (plus local holidays and weekends), reimbursement and per diem for all service-related travel, and just over $6,000 disbursed to you when your term of service ends.

If natural disaster, political unrest, plague, etc. make your stay in China untenable, Peace Corps will evacuate you and your group. Read more about the recent closing of the Bolivia program. In 2003, the Peace Corps China program was completely emptied out in response to the SARS epidemic.

In addition to pre-service language training, Peace Corps reimburses you the expense of on-going private language instruction once you are at your service placement. A few times a year you have the opportunity to head to trainings at Peace Corps country headquarters (in China, this is located in Chengdu, Sichuan, very near the May earthquake epicenter).

heping dui, photo by Alison

heping dui, photo by Alison

Educational benefits include deferring qualified student loans during your term of service (and partial cancellation of Perkins loans). Once you are back, you are eligible to apply for special fellowships at grad schools through the Fellows USA program, especially designed for Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs). (For people who have not yet joined Peace Corps, also consider Peace Corps Masters International, which allows you to do Peace Corps service as part of a master’s degree). Read more and listen to a podcast on Peace Corps and grad school.

Peace Corps China journalists

No discussion of Peace Corps’s China program would be complete without mentioning the journalists who have graduated from it. While most China RPCVs have gone on to do great things in many fields, the group has produced several noteworthy writers and journalists.

Pete and a Chinese man, photo by Mark Leong

Pete and a Chinese man, photo by Mark Leong

These men’s voices weigh in on our understanding of China. They are helping people in the U.S. create a new consciousness of China, about the complexities of its culture, its conflicting priorities as it develops. The value of their contribution lies in their knowledge of the language, people, and context of China with a depth the U.S. reader hasn’t seen since missionary-era writers like Pearl Buck.

The emphasis Peace Corps China has traditionally placed on friendship (the Chinese name for the group is the Sino-U.S. Friendship Volunteers), cross-cultural and cross-linguistic understanding, produces a wider lens through which to view the nation and its billion-plus people — a lens some other journalists in China simply haven’t had.

It’s not that these journalists are apologists for the unsavory things the Chinese government does. But we aren’t going to learn anything about China, or any country, if we look only at the actions of a government and never at the people themselves… If we only listen to press conferences and never to the voices of the farmer or factory worker.

Multimedia

The independent Peace Corps Wiki is an alternative source of information about Peace Corps. Here’s the China wiki.

Read the online journal entries of Michelle Ross who served in China from 2006-08, and listings of other Peace Corps China blogs.

Check out this Google presentation featuring China RPCV Pete Hessler speaking about his writing and experiences in Peace Corps.

Check out the official Peace Corps Video Vault, where Volunteers speak to some of the most frequently-asked questions Peace Corps applicants have.

Resources

And a repeat: Next week (11/8) my friend and China RPCV Kate Kuykendall, a public affairs specialist for the L.A. recruitment office, will host an Online Info Session about Peace Corps China that you can tune into for even more information.

For more resources on graduate education, check out the Idealist.org Public Service Graduate Education Resource Center, and if you live in the vicinity of Georgia, come to our final graduate admissions fair coming to Atlanta on Monday, 11/3.

This week The New Service blog is looking at education service corps. While many service corps programs have application due dates in the spring for a fall start date, most education service corps have deadlines throughout the winter and start in the summer. Check out this list of education-related opprotunities that don’t require an education degree.

Advertisements

NYC Teaching Fellows

New teachers primarily work in Bronx and Brooklyn schools with high demand for faculty, covering subjects that are also desperately needed. Within two to three years, Fellows earn a subsidized Masters degree from university in the area.

NYC Teaching Fellows — as with Teach For America, Inner-City Teaching Corps, Mississippi Teacher Corps, and other education corps we are looking at this week — is designed to bring new talent to schools.

Eligibility

People who enter the program don’t need to have had any formal background in education, but do need to have a 3.0 Grade Point Average in undergraduate course work. Read about other eligibility requirements.

The program recruits both recent college grads as well as career changers.

Training and “placement”

After an intense June seven-week pre-service training, Fellows start teaching. The program assigns each Fellow the New York City borough in which they will teach, and their subject. (Of particular need are math and science teachers.)

Fellows research and apply for the teaching positions themselves, and are granted a provisional state teaching license for their time in the program.

While teaching, Fellows earn the salary and benefits of starting teachers in the city (salary nears $46,000).

Master’s degree

Each semester, Fellows take two courses towards their master’s degree, mostly paid for by the New York City Department of Education. (Over the course of the program, Fellows contribute almost $7,000 towards the cost of the mastser’s degree, and that is deducted from their pay checks.)

The specific universities and degrees vary for each Fellow, depending on the borough where they work, and the subject they teach. More than half attend City University of New York (CUNY) schools. For most Fellows, it takes two to three years to finish the degree. After that, NYC Teaching Fellows encourages graduating Fellows to stay in the city and continue teaching. They cite a statistic I’ve seen elsewhere that it takes about five years for a new teacher to really hit their stride, and they want all their Fellows to reach that point.

Multimedia

Browse profiles and videos of Fellows, including Travis Brown’s. Read the blog of Bill King, third-year Fellow teaching biology and physics.

Also, watch interviews with first-year Fellow Kristen Bloomer and take a look inside Fellow Jeanine Tubiolo’s classroom:

Finally, watch this online presentation about the NYC Teaching Fellows.

Deadlines and application

Upcoming deadlines to apply for a 2009 Fellowship are December 5 and January 5. Read more about the application process.

Resources

For more resources on graduate education, check out the Idealist.org Public Service Graduate Education Resource Center, and if you live in the U.S. South, come out to one of our graduate admissions fairs touring — tonight in New Orleans and Monday in Atlanta.

This week The New Service blog is looking at education service corps. While many service corps programs have application due dates in the spring for a fall start date, most education service corps have deadlines throughout the winter and start in the summer. Check out this list of education-related opprotunities that don’t require an education degree.

add to del.icio.us :: Add to Blinkslist :: add to furl :: Digg it :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! :: add to simpy :: seed the vine :: :: :: TailRank :: post to facebook

Mississippi Teacher Corps

New teachers receive intense summer training, work in critical-needs schools in the Mississippi Delta or in Jackson for two years, and earn teaching degrees.

Aiming to rectify teacher shortages, as well as to develop the untapped teaching talent and leadership of college graduates, the Mississippi Teacher Corps is a program to look at. Designed for people with no formal background in teaching but who are passionate about becoming teachers. Especially for you if you love challenging yourself and want to engage young people and their communities though they may be very different from your own.

Placement and benefits

Corps members work in either Jackson, MS, or in the Mississippi Delta, and are placed in critical needs schools. They receive starting teacher salaries and health benefits in their districts as well as full tuition (including textbooks) from the University of Mississippi School of Education to pay for a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction. Read the full program description.

Training, support, and education

During the summer, first and second year Corps members team-teach classes at Holly Springs High School near Oxford, MS. New teachers are observed and receive feedback and guidance.

Throughout the two school years, Corps members travel back to the university for Saturday classes twice a month towards earning their Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction. Corps members’s training, classes and workshops are tailored to their unique experience and are not open to other students at University of Mississippi.

Multimedia

Reading the blogs of program director Ben Guest, instructor Ann Monroe, and Corps members, you definitely get the feeling that the structure and benefits of the program are tremendous gifts to Corps members, but that the real gift is working with the students.

Watch this interview with Ashley Johnson from the Class of 2006:

Cohort and community

The program also fosters a spirit of community and friendship among its Corps members. Many schools of education boast the cohort model (in which students start together, take all classes together, and graduate together), but require that students attend full-time in order to participate. On the other hand, many students who go to grad school part-time miss out on the cohort experience. Mississippi Teacher Corps engages the Corps as a learning cohort, although members take their education courses only part-time.

Deadlines and eligibility

As with Teach For America and other education service corps, the Mississippi Teacher Corps has a few deadlines throughout the winter. The next deadline is Nov. 25. See the other deadlines and application. Also, you don’t need to have been an education major, though a 3.0 minimum undergraduate Grade Point Average is expected.

Resources

Follow Mississippi Teacher Corps on Twitter.

For more resources on graduate education, check out the Idealist.org Public Service Graduate Education Resource Center, and if you live in the U.S. South, come out to one of our graduate admissions fairs touring New Orleans and Atlanta in the coming days.

This week The New Service blog is looking at education service corps. While many service corps programs have application due dates in the spring for a fall start date, most education service corps have deadlines throughout the winter and start in the summer. Check out this list of education-related opprotunities that don’t require an education degree.

add to del.icio.us :: Add to Blinkslist :: add to furl :: Digg it :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! :: add to simpy :: seed the vine :: :: :: TailRank :: post to facebook

Chicago’s Inner-City Teaching Corps

New teachers serve for two years in Chicago’s Catholic and charter schools, live in supportive inter-faith communities, earn alternative teacher certification, and work towards their education degree.

The Inner-City Teaching Corps of Chicago aims to transform education in under-served communities and to empower children in urban schools. The organization houses two programs that create and train new teachers who work in under-resourced schools in Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods.

Eligibility & placement

The Volunteer Teaching Corps recruits and supports recent college graduates, and the Urban Impact Through Education (UNITE) program brings “proven leaders from the business world into the teaching profession.”

As with Teach For America and other education service corps you don’t need to have been an education major, though a 3.0 minimum undergraduate Grade Point Average is expected.

ICTC places its Corps members in Catholic and charter schools because its Corps members are working towards alternative certification during their first year of service.

Alternative certification and education

The Corps’s Alternative Teacher Certification Program is a partnership with Northwestern University that adds a diverse group of talented new teachers to Chicago’s schools and allows Corps members to earn up to 22 credits towards an M.S. in Education during their term of service. Read more about ICTC’s professional development benefits.

Community living and other benefits

Volunteer Teaching Corps members live in supportive communities with other six or seven other Corps members—communities that are spiritual, and inter-faith, depending on the beliefs of the community members. Corps members receive room and board, health insurance, and a $5/day allowance. They can defer qualified student loans, and earn the Eli Segal AmeriCorps Education Award for each year they are in the program. (Corps members use the first year of the Ed Award to contribute to the cost of the first eight Northwestern University course credits towards their degree.)

Competitiveness

This year 35-40 Corps members serve in the Volunteer Teacher Corps, but the program gets five times that number of applications. About 35 teachers serve in the UNITE program for mid-career professionals transitioning into the field of education.

Career trajectory

While teachers nationally tend to stay in the classroom an average of 3-5 years before burning out, almost 90 percent of ICTC-trained teachers are still in the field of education, according to the organization’s 2007 Annual Report.

More info and open house

Read more about this year’s Corps members, and about admissions. Note that the next application deadline is Nov. 5 — that’s next week! Also note that ICTC runs several other programs.

Also note that the Volunteer Teaching Corps hosts a weekend-long open house in mid-January called the Come & See Weekend (January 15-18, 2009). Participants in the weekend stay in the VTC communities, participate in a Corps member’s classroom, and visit Chicago’s South and West Sides. Another application deadline follows that weekend on January 21.

Resources

For more resources on graduate education, check out the Idealist.org Public Service Graduate Education Resource Center, and if you live in the U.S. South, come out to one of our graduate admissions fairs touring New Orleans and Atlanta in the coming days.

This week The New Service blog is looking at education service corps. While many service corps programs have application due dates in the spring for a fall start date, most education service corps have deadlines throughout the winter and start in the summer. Check out this list of education-related opprotunities that don’t require an education degree.
add to del.icio.us :: Add to Blinkslist :: add to furl :: Digg it :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! :: add to simpy :: seed the vine :: :: :: TailRank :: post to facebook

TFA Alum Michelle Rhee Explained, in the WaPo

Teach For America‘s most controversial alum Michelle Rhee has garnered media attention for her iconoclastic, unbureacratic ways as the Washington, DC, chancellor of public schools. The Washington Post published a column by Jay Mathews today tracing Rhee’s basic philosophies about what works and doesn’t work in schools back to her time as a TFA Corps member in Baltimore.

“‘It was a zoo, every day,’ she recalled. Thirty-six children, all poor, suffered under a novice who had no idea what to do. But within months, for Rhee and other influential educators in her age group, the situation changed. She vowed not “to let 8-year-olds run me out of town….

“She found unconventional but effective ways to teach reading and math….Students became calm and engaged. Test scores soared. She kept one group with her for second and third grade. She was convinced that her students, despite their problems, ‘were the most talented kids ever.'”

But Rhee couldn’t teach them forever. According to Mathews, Rhee explained: “‘All of those kids would go on to other teachers and totally lose everything because those teachers were’ lousy. (Rhee used an earthier adjective.)”

The experience of working against convention to get those kids to succeed — and then the crushing disappointment of watching them go on to fail — shaped Rhee’s outlook and mission running DC’s public schools.

Teach For America, the nation’s most famous and elite education service corps, strives to eliminate educational inequities by placing graduates of top universities for two years in critical needs school districts throughout the United States. The program doesn’t aim to develop the teacher work force or address teacher shortages so much as to make it possible for all children to achieve in school, no matter where they are born, or under what circumstances.

It makes sense that Rhee works outside conventions. The two-year program trains its Corps members somewhat differently from a traditional academic program for teacher preparation. Because Corps members receive a couple months of training before becoming full-time teachers for the first time, their training tends to be very concrete, focusing on assessment, planning, and instruction, rather than emphasizing philosophy and content that are detached from the classroom application.

Hired through school district’s alternative certification programs, many Corps members earn certification through credits they earn through out their two years.

Corps members earn a starting salary for teachers in their district; benefits such as student loan deferment and the Eli Segal Education Award come through a partnership with AmeriCorps.

About a third of TFA alums go on to pursue careers in education. Most go on to leadership roles in other fields and sectors, informed by their years in the classroom. (Read about the impact of TFA Corps members and alumni. Read more about TFA’s career transitions support.) TFA has established partnerships with graduate schools who offer scholarships, application fee waivers, admission deferments and other benefits to TFA alums.

In the past year, applications to Teach For America (TFA) soared to over 25,000, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy earlier in the year, while only 6,200 TFA Corps members served last year.

That’s a lot of applicants who are turned away.

Many of these tens of thousands of applicants are drawn to Teach For America’s mission. Other applicants may be drawn to service more generally, and have applied to TFA because it’s hands-down one of the most prestigious, best-known, and best-funded AmeriCorps programs. Other applicants still may be attracted to the honor of serving with such an elite Corps of young people.

This week The New Service blog is going to look at a few other education service corps, including Chicago’s Inner City Teaching Corps and the Mississippi Teacher Corps. While many service corps programs have application due dates in the spring for a fall start date, most education service corps have deadlines throughout the winter and start in the summer.

For graduating college seniors interested in applying to TFA this fall, note that the second for four deadlines is coming up Nov. 7. Read more about TFA admissions.

TFA has been a cosponsor of our Idealist.org graduate admissions fairs for years and this fall financially sponsored two of our grad fairs, including the upcoming event in Atlanta, Nov. 3.

Columnist Jay Mathews hosted a chat online about the column on Michelle Rhee.

Tuesday 10/28, Eli Lilly and Company and Teach For America announced a new networking partnership in Indianapolis that aims to strengthen the TFA Corps members as well as the students they teach.

Agency Director Proposes Peace Corps Foundation

Peace Corps Director and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) Ron Tschetter today proposed the creation of an independent Peace Corps Foundation.

Since the inception of Peace Corps during the Kennedy administration, the agency has had three goals. The third goal has been to bring the world back home. The vision of the Peace Corps Foundation to support educating people in the United States about Peace Corps host countries and cultures.

This is from the press release issued by Peace Corps on Oct. 24:

Describing the idea during a town hall staff meeting, Director Tschetter said, “The Peace Corps Foundation would foster greater participation and support to Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and their organizations, encourage cross-cultural exchange, volunteerism through community events, classroom visits, and other educational activities. We now seek support and authority from Congress on this key priority for our agency, and I look forward to moving ahead on this initiative as soon as possible.”

“Groups such as the National Peace Corps Association and the numerous ‘friends of’ groups comprised of Returned Volunteers could greatly benefit from Foundation resources…

Ultimately, a Peace Corps Foundation building in Washington D.C. would serve as an educational facility where Americans, particularly children, would come and learn more about other cultures and countries, as well as how the Peace Corps fulfills its mission of promoting peace and friendship worldwide. The Foundation would also complement the Peace Corps’ Third Goal activities such as Peace Corps Week, the Coverdell World Wise Schools Program, and the publication of educational materials for teachers and students.”

Peace Corps Week takes place in the late winter and encourages RPCVs to speak about their cross cultural experiences in their communities and local class rooms.

World Wise Schools allows classrooms to adopt currently serving Peace Corps Volunteers as correspondents.

RPCVs and National Peace Corps Assocation-affiliated RPCV groups will likely greet the news of support for Third Goal activities with hope and curiosity.

Many groups work hard to make connections between their host countries and the United States, for example, members of the Columbia River Peace Corps Association in the Portland, OR, area have been working hard for years to launch the Museum of the Peace Corps Experience.

These are the three goals:

  1. Helping the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
  2. Helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
  3. Helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

AmeriCorps Program Named CNN Top 10 Hero

Program involving AmeriCorps members is honored as part of CNN Heroes series.

Yesterday, Anderson Cooper named his Top 10 Heroes of 2008 on CNN. Among them, Liz McCartney and the St. Bernard Project, an AmeriCorps project in St. Bernard Parish, New Orleans.

According to a press release from the Corporation for National and Community Service,

Liz McCartney, co-founder of a Louisiana nonprofit that relies on volunteers and AmeriCorps members to rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, has been selected as one of 10 finalists in the second annual “CNN Heroes” program.

The St. Bernard Project, formed two years ago by McCartney and Zack Rosenburg, has mobilized more than 9,000 volunteers to renovate and reconstruct 151 homes for residents of St. Bernard Parish, an area just outside New Orleans that once was home to 67,000 people that suffered massive damage from Katrina.

Watch the AC 360 clip from CNN.

Anyone can vote for the Hero of the Year.

The announcement is expected Thanksgiving night. The winner will win $100,000.

The top ten heroes each won $25,000 and McCartney donated hers back to the project.

[clearspring_widget title=”CNN Heroes Widget” wid=”48ebac524a8e957f” pid=”49025bdf0c55aa58″ width=”304″ height=”274″ domain=”widgets.clearspring.com”]