Without a doubt, Bank Street prepares you for the ins and outs of teaching, but the school’s greatest lasting impact on your career is how it connects you to a community of like-minded educators.
Truth is, education can be an isolating career field, even though we’re always surrounded by people. Teachers often interact more with students than with their peers. When we do interact with other adults in our profession, it’s not always easy to find those who share similar values of how education should be practiced. Bank Street educators believe in progressive education and child-centered learning. We work to rupture traditional teaching practices—to empower all of our students. Progressive education is not always thought to be synonymous with public school education, which is why it often feels necessary to find other Bank Street educators who are committed to public education.
Bank Street’s Council of Students (COS) is an open-member organization that supports graduate students through different activities, including workshops, affinity groups, and organized events. COS also enables students to create their own community circles if they are looking for a network to do things like engaging in a recreational hobby or discussing an issue. It was in this way that the Public School Educators circle was born.
We were seeking out a community of Bank Street of people who were dedicated to public education. Our goal for this circle was to create a community circle that opened a space for discussing important issues related to public education in the largest public school system in the country.
In this circle, we wanted to support each other as educators who are committed to public education.
Each month, we select a topic to explore and come prepared to collectively unpack it. We’ve discussed current events, such as new policies around police presence in Department of Education school buildings and changing admission practices to the gifted and talented programs amidst the pandemic. We have also worked to understand the systems that shape our professions, asking questions, such as: What actually dictates a school’s funding/budget? We know our students take state tests, but how is that data formally used? The topics are generated by our participants and we welcome everyone to contribute in whatever way they can. After we’ve chosen a topic for our upcoming meeting, a participant in our circle will volunteer to create a resource document for that topic. The document is then shared with the circle a week in advance of our discussion so participants can familiarize themselves with it and be ready to discuss.
As Bank Street students and alumni, we have shared frameworks and coursework that we use and find effective. We know the history of our school systems and contemporary approaches to classroom learning. In our circle, we put theory into practice by tackling how our vision of education fits in with our teaching experiences and with the public school system as a whole. Our regular attendees are public school teachers and independent school teachers who all have a strong interest in the public school system and equity in education. Through our discussions, we have found ways to support each other as students, teachers, and as humans enduring the current pandemic.
Bank Street is not just a teacher preparation program— it instills in you a deep curiosity about and commitment to the field of education. Our Public School Educators circle is a place where our questions and passions for our work can be explored and shared.
Interested in learning more? Contact the Council of Students at firstname.lastname@example.org.