All incoming Teach For America South Carolina (TFASC) teachers attend a five-week, intensive summer institute before the first day of school. The institute provides teachers with hands-on experience based on a proven model that combines training with immersive teaching practice and coaching. After five weeks at the institute, TFASC teachers are better prepared to lead rigorous, supportive, and inclusive classrooms for their students.
In previous years, TFASC teachers participated in Teach For America (TFA)’s regional summer institute in Mississippi, but a more custom, localized curriculum and context was sought to better prepare teachers for South Carolina classrooms. For summer 2020, TFASC planned to host its first in-state summer institute in Greenville with Legacy Early College and Furman University.
When the global pandemic emerged, TFASC worked with TFA national – leveraging resources across the country – to offer a best-in-class virtual format for the summer institute in a mere eight weeks. TFASC’s incoming cohort joined more than 3,000 incoming teachers to participate in the virtual summer institute that would help them thrive and drive change in the classroom.
“To provide context, TFASC spent two years preparing for our first in-state teacher training institute before we pivoted to virtual instruction with TFA nationally,” said Tess Holt, senior managing director of leadership development at TFASC. “It took every staff member to make the virtual summer institute happen, and this monumental shift in such a short time frame is a testament to our organization’s agility, creativity, and innovation.”
From June 11 to July 10, 2020, TFASC teachers attended virtual live training sessions and self-paced learning modules on topics such as classroom culture, DEI, leadership, learner variability, and lesson planning. They also taught students in virtual summer schools located across the country.
Feedback from teachers was overwhelmingly positive. Following the summer institute, teachers remarked that they felt supported throughout their training experience, and they were prepared to make an impact in their classrooms.