We're Looking for Individuals With the Potential to Develop:
Content Knowledge for Teaching
The Knowles Teacher Initiative seeks Fellowship candidates who have exceptional content knowledge in the area they intend to teach and who also have the capacity and drive to develop the specialized content knowledge needed to carry out the work of teaching. A strong foundation of knowledge in the discipline is a necessary first step for developing the content knowledge needed for teaching; hence we seek candidates who have at least the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree in a discipline related to the subject(s) they intend to teach, who demonstrate a flexibility within and connectedness across their own understanding of the discipline, who are passionate about the discipline and have a desire to continue to push their own understanding of even basic concepts within the discipline.
Although knowledge of the current state of their discipline and how it is evolving is crucial for teachers, the content knowledge needed for teaching depends more upon advanced knowledge of elementary concepts than elementary knowledge of advanced concepts. Content knowledge for teaching is both broad and deep, and is organized specifically for the work of teaching. It includes having the ability to be curious about and make sense of student thinking, to anticipate student difficulties and build on their prior knowledge, and develop a coherent content-based trajectory that provides students with the opportunity to learn. We seek candidates who can see complexity in the organization of content ideas and who find student thinking interesting and something to be investigated.
Content knowledge for teaching is developed over the course of a career, so Knowles does not expect candidates to display mastery of this kind of knowledge. Rather, we seek candidates who have the propensity to be challenged and excited (rather than threatened) by the prospect of having to learn more about the fundamental concepts and practices of the discipline, especially those they think they have already mastered.
Exemplary Teaching Practices
Knowles Teaching Fellowships are explicitly designed to support beginning high school teachers; hence we are seeking candidates who are committed to working with adolescents and teaching math or science at the high school level. We do not expect candidates to display a mastery of teaching when they apply. Rather, we are seeking candidates who understand that teaching is highly complex, intellectually challenging work and recognize that, regardless of other experiences they may have had, it will take them considerable time and effort to become outstanding teachers.
Outstanding professional teachers have the ability to communicate clearly, plan and be flexible, and work productively with diverse individuals. They are curious about the larger implications of teaching practices and educational policies and have a well-developed habit of reflection. Furthermore, they are willing to share and receive critical feedback from others and demonstrate the capacity to learn from both failure and success for the purposes of improving teaching. Outstanding professional teachers have consistently high expectations for every learner recognizing the various strengths students bring with them to the classroom. They also critically examine their own practices with the goal of leveraging these strengths and promoting equitable learning opportunities for all students. Knowles seeks candidates who are developing these characteristics from previous experiences and display the propensity to continue to develop them as teachers.
Qualities of a Teacher Leader
The Knowles Teacher Initiative is committed to strengthening the teaching profession by identifying and supporting outstanding teachers who can serve as leaders from within the teaching profession. These teacher leaders are capable of contributing to and supporting collaborative work in schools, supporting collective learning including the generation of knowledge about and for the profession, and assuming responsibility for serving and supporting others. We seek candidates who have the potential to become leaders who serve as agents of educational improvement for students within their classrooms, schools, communities, and the profession.
Teacher leaders first and foremost strive to be outstanding teachers; in addition, they have the curiosity, vision and drive to work with others to understand and improve teaching practice in ever-wider circles of influence. They understand the power of collaboration and recognize the need to learn from and with others, can work as part of a team, and know how to lead by leveraging the strengths of team members. Knowles seeks candidates who have developed their capacity for collaborative leadership in previous experiences and demonstrate the propensity to continue to develop that capacity as leaders who remain in the classroom.