Graduate Admissions Blog

Questions from you!

On April 9, 2016, we gave applicants to our teacher preparation programs an opportunity to discover Bank Street and meet members of our community. They got to meet various faculty and staff members, participate in model lessons, and hear from a group of current students and alumni. During the event, we asked the applicants to write down questions for our panelists and unfortunately ran out of time! Two members of our panel followed up with their responses to the questions that were handed to us. Here is information on our panelists followed by their answers to your questions (Admissions will chime in, as well):

Shavon Frazier: Alumna of the Early Childhood Special Education program and current student in the Early Childhood Leadership program.
Cosima Higham: Current student in the Childhood General Education program.
John Kuckens: Alumnus of the Teaching Literacy & Childhood General Educationprogram.

1) Did any of you take a break between undergraduate and graduate school? If so, how did Bank Street make it easy to get back in the swing of learning and being back in school?

Shavon: I did not take a break between undergrad and grad work. I finished undergrad work in December of 2009 and began grad work in January of 2010. I did take a 3 year break between my first masters and my second masters at Bank Street. Getting back into the swing of things has been ok. I had to mentally prepare myself and reevaluate myself as a learner and a teacher with a full time lead teacher position. I am realizing that I cannot do everything exactly how I did it the first go around and so I am thinking of ways to support myself. Professors are always willing and able to give more support if needed, all you have to do is ask.

Cosima: I did take a break between undergrad and grad school and spent about three years working as a web manager in a small retail store. When I went back to school, the thing I appreciated most about Bank Street was that many of the professors understand that the students are working adults with jobs, children and generally many other things they are responsible for outside of school. This is not to say that Bank Street isn’t rigorous, but with that base understanding, getting back into the swing of things was easier than anticipated.

John: I was talking to some friends recently about Graduate school vs. Undergrad. At our Undergrads, there were all kinds of course requirements outside of our majors, which could get distracting. There was also more time spent listening to a professor in a classroom. However in graduate school, you have chosen a field of study, and coursework seems more practical and useful. You also spend more time doing things in this field, and learning from experienced professionals.

2) Do students have a preference/choice in where they do field placements (for student teaching)?

Shavon: Your placement for student teaching is based on several factors. When I was accepted into my first program I notified the director of the program (who helps you to map out your courses for your entire length of study) that it was not an option for me to student teach and not work. I was lucky enough that the Bank Street Family Center had a paid internship opening in their 4’s classroom and they cater to children with special needs. This fulfilled my needs for paid employment and degree requirements. I was exceedingly lucky!

Cosima: I think this in some ways depends on the advisor as well as if there are any teacher participants in a given school willing to take on a student teacher. The goal is for students to get a well rounded experience in a variety of classroom settings, and so if a preference happens to fit into that framework – great! If not, then you probably wouldn’t be placed there.

John: In my experience, my advisor asked me what kinds of goals I had for student teaching since I had already had some experience in education prior to Bank Street. As it happened, my placement was fairly close to where I live, and was the same school for the whole year (I think I lucked out big time). Others (not that they didn’t luck out) were in 2-3 different schools during their fieldwork year.

3) Since there is one year of student teaching for the teacher preparation program are there opportunities to volunteer in classrooms during the other year?

Shavon: Absolutely! Often times after you student teacher schools are more than happy to have you come back and volunteer or substitute teach in the school you student taught in. Other schools are often looking for volunteers and it can be a great learning experience. I personally recommend looking for an assistant teacher position so that you get more “real” teaching experience while you are in school and can take more time to directly apply theory as you learn it.

Cosima: You might be able to see through the DOE if there are classrooms/schools that are accepting volunteers. You can also sign up as a substitute teacher through the DOE.

John: I’d recommend seeing if you can find an assistant teacher spot somewhere, or even a substitute teaching gig, or working as a tutor. Afterschool programs also seem to always be in demand for staff, although most Bank Street courses run between 4:45-9:00. It was helpful for me to be in an educational setting while taking courses here.

In terms of finding opportunities to work with kids, I would think that a well-written email or polite phone call to a principal could net you some chances to observe or interact with kids in an age group you’re interested in.

4) Does Bank Street College have a writing center?

Shavon: I’m not sure about a writing center but I do know they may have writing workshops or other supports in the library. Instructors are also willing and able to help you as long as you request the assistance in a timely fashion.

Admissions: The Disabilities Services Office is also available if there are additional supports you will need.

5) I’m considering getting a Psy-D after my master’s. How can Bank Street prepare me for a Psy-D program and would my credits here be able to count toward my Psy-D?

John: Bank Street teaches its future teachers to be fully aware of the social and emotional developmental milestones that children experience. I am not sure about credits counting toward another program, but your “tool box” (the experiences and strategies you’ve acquired) would certainly be strong. I think having experience working with kids and seeing them in an academic setting would also be great background knowledge to have if pursuing a Psy-D. For example, my roommate from college earned his Psy-D a few years ago, and in working with clients who are young, struggles with academics often come up in his sessions.

Cosima: I think Bank Street’s strong consideration of child-centered learning and a deep devotion to child development and the implications of that within the classroom would certainly serve as a strong base when pursuing a Psy-D!

Admissions: Psy-D programs often require a graduate background in specific psychology (or related) disciplines. Although the core of our programs are in child and adult development, you would want to look at the admissions requirements for the Psy-D programs you’re interested in and inquire further.