INSTEP Social Studies: Delving Deeper and Making Connections

Students engaged in group work during the INSTEP Social Studies program.

Ashley Taylor, a doctoral student in Social Studies Education, is finishing her third year as that department’s INSTEP coordinator. This means that, because the program runs for three summer sessions, she will be moving on just as her first group of students graduates from the program.

One of the most rewarding things about being the INSTEP coordinator, says Ms. Taylor, is being a part of the great relationships that are formed among the students around teaching and learning. Because the program is so intensive, tight connections are made through classes, projects, and shared experiences. She describes the excitement in the air as students come back and see friends they haven’t seen all year. “It’s like camp!”

Students in the program are a part of a cohort seminar called Guided Investigations which first, second, and third year INSTEPers take together each summer. Additionally, students engage in an Action Research Project around a question or issue they’re facing in their classrooms.

Since most students have beyond two and three years of teaching experience around the US and even the world, they have a sense of readiness when they begin the INSTEP program at TC. Ms. Taylor believes that because theirs is not a hypothetical classroom, but an actual one in which they know their students, they can see things a little bit differently than a brand new teacher. In the classes they take, from Advanced Methods of Teaching Social Studies to Curriculum Development, Research, & Supervision, everything is very much connected to their classrooms. For example, students in a diversity class are able to discuss issues around implementing multiculturalism, share stories from their own experiences, and support one another’s practice.

“Our students are exceptional. What differentiates them is that there’s such a commitment to the classroom and to teaching that they don’t want to take any time off to do their Master’s.”

Many students are coming to New York City for the six week session  from elsewhere in the country, so Ms. Taylor  makes it a priority not only to make them feel welcome and comfortable while they’re here, but to keep them connected to the TC community throughout the year.

Interested in participating in the INSTEP Social Studies Education program? Find out how, here.