Widening the Pipeline: The Residency Model

In the mid-afternoon of just about any school day, a group of students gathers in the Yeshivah of Flatbush Middle School conference room. Depending on the day, they will either engage with their teacher in person or on Zoom. 


Although this instructional model is not unique in post-pandemic education, the students in the class are far from typical. They are all adults with college degrees and are starting their careers in Jewish education as residents in the first cohort of the Yeshivah of Flatbush Teacher Residency and In-service Program (YOF TRiP). They each have teaching assignments that would be expected for novice teachers, but the support, mentoring, graduate-level courses and professional development they receive are extraordinary. Through YOF TRiP, these novice teachers are moving expeditiously along the track to professional excellence.


The Need for TRiP

The concept underlying YOF TRiP is based on the residency experience in medicine. Having earned their MD degrees, doctors know a great deal about the human body and medicine, but there’s a reason many people avoid elective surgeries or procedures in July, the month in which new MDs enter hospitals and start to practice medicine. Indeed, in this context, “practice” is a well-chosen word, as it is through the experience of residency that the knowledgeable but inexperienced doctors gain skill and expertise in their chosen specialties. Although this model of guided learning could be applied in many fields, formal programs were primarily restricted to medicine until the recent launch of teacher residencies, including YOF TRiP.

We view YOF TRiP as more than a program designed to develop and refine skills for novice teachers. As we hoped in our initial planning stages, the multifaceted program attracts people entering the workforce to the field of education. We are keenly aware of the shortage of teachers and the need to encourage more college graduates to consider careers in education. The offer of support through mentoring and cohort work along with the opportunity to earn a fully subsidized master’s degree has attracted more candidates than we anticipated. 

Making education an obtainable career and providing financial support has led qualified and capable candidates who were considering other options to apply to the program. Furthermore, the connections established through the cohort work contribute to a sense of camaraderie, which is a significant factor in novice teachers’ decisions regarding staying in the field. In short, YOF TRiP takes on the challenges of attracting potential teachers, facilitating and accelerating their professional development, and keeping them in the profession.


What TRiP Offers

Launched this past September, YOF TRiP has several essential components. Having completed BA degrees, the residents all meet the criteria used by most schools in hiring novice teachers. However, in a departure from typical practice, and in a manner consistent with medical residency, the three-year program offers novice teachers already working in their field the opportunity to develop skills and expertise. In addition to working with one-to-one mentors, the residents’ daily cohort meeting for their graduate-level courses provides the opportunity for them to benefit from each other’s learning experiences in real time. The courses are offered through Touro College, where these students are enrolled in the two-year dual master’s program in Jewish childhood education and special education. 

Participants thus receive an attractive package that helps launch their careers: 

  • full-time employment
  • competitive salaries and benefits
  • mentoring
  • a cohort of colleagues at the same stage in their careers
  • a dual master’s degree in education

Residents serve as associate teachers in either elementary or middle school classes, working beside veteran teachers. They gain hands-on classroom experience before shouldering complete responsibility for lesson planning and student learning. They also participate in departmental meetings, interact with colleagues, and observe teacher-parent interaction and communication. The program guides residents through the full range of typical professional responsibilities, actions and interactions before they are solely responsible for these practices in their own classes.


What Happened

With approximately 30 applicants, almost all of whom were qualified, we offered residency to 10, and six accepted. The group met for the first time at their orientation program at the end of August. The residents were also included in all faculty orientation, professional development and training programs. Although it was challenging in the context of a large middle school, we were able to arrange their teaching schedules so that they all had an open block of time midday, enabling them to take their coursework during the school day. 


Their presence in the building throughout the day enabled the residents to interact and learn from veteran colleagues, meet and work with mentors, and check in with each other regularly. In group and individual conversations, residents have shared the feeling that the program design has facilitated their development as teachers and spoken specifically about the cohort experience as well as the opportunity to apply and experiment with their daily learning in their classrooms almost immediately.

With no doubt about the success of our residency program, we are set to recruit and interview candidates for the second cohort. However, we also recognize that we need to learn from some challenges and mistakes. Some of our residents were not prepared to start the school year with full teaching responsibilities. Our recruiting and rollout timing didn’t allow us to start the program in July. We had hoped to include a few weeks of cohort work in Israel in the program, and that didn’t happen.


Learning from Experience

As we reflected with the members of our first cohort on their experience thus far, planning for year two and the second cohort, we learned some important lessons. 

The initially intended model was for residents to serve as associate teachers, but that was not the reality for the first cohort. Some of the program participants originally came to us as applicants for teaching positions; while we felt they were qualified, we also saw the benefit of having them, as novice teachers, participate in the TRiP program. Others who applied specifically for the residency and would have been happy to serve as associates, took on fuller teaching responsibilities when no suitable candidates for some middle school positions were found. 

For the most part, this has worked out nicely. Consequently, we now recognize that a variation of the planned model can be beneficial for the residents’ development. Based on observation and reflection, we are considering having future residents serve as half-day associate teachers while lead teaching one additional middle school class each day. 

We like this adapted model because feedback from our current residents indicates that it is invaluable to them to have the ability to apply what they are learning in their master’s coursework. Lead teaching, which was this year’s residents’ main experience, gives them much more autonomy in applying their learning in the classroom. This on-the-job experience enables them to discuss with their professors and the entire cohort where they are succeeding and what they still need to work on. 

Simultaneously, placement in a class led by a veteran teacher exposes residents to best practices and the opportunity to benefit from collegial feedback. This model provides them with hands-on classroom experience and the opportunity to work through a school year without all the responsibilities of a lead teacher. Depending on the classroom and the primary teacher’s own experiences, it may be necessary to provide them with training in co-teaching and mentoring.

Our initial plan was to start cohort meetings and coursework in July, but logistical challenges prevented this. We are convinced that the plan was sound, and it is important for us to overcome the logistical challenges for future cohorts. As we now plan for our second cohort, we are hopeful that we will have time for summer work. However, we recognize that in the future, our cycle will have to start much earlier so that we can recruit residents before they commit to family plans or other summer employment.


The Israel TRiP Trip

We believe that inspiration and deep commitment to Jewish education can and must be taught as part of teacher training for Jewish day schools. In our original vision for TRiP, we anticipated the entire cohort spending part of the summer in Israel. Learning specifically in Israel is crucial because: 

  • It will immerse the residents in an environment that is religiously inspiring and consistent with our yeshiva’s Zionist mission. 
  • It will acquaint participants with committed Jewish education leaders who can serve as inspirational role models. 

Our plan was also that, while in Israel, the residents would take one or two courses as part of their master’s program. However, at this time, for practical reasons unrelated to the war, we will not be traveling to Israel for the summer. We hope to implement the Israel plan during the summer of 2025.


Join the Journey



Despite the challenges, we deeply believe in this program and would love to see other schools adopt it. Toward that end, we’re available to help. We have discussed possibly creating future cohorts whose members are placed in various schools. This would likely necessitate making more or all graduate-level courses virtual, and we can’t predict the impact that would have on the bonding and sharing of experience within the cohort. Several in-person meetings throughout the year would be helpful. Also, although the cost of the residency program is not prohibitive (someone compared it favorably to the expenditure involved in bringing in teacher emissaries from Israel), it is worthwhile to explore external funding. Perhaps the idea of several schools working together will increase funder interest. 

We are convinced that residency programs provide necessary support for teachers entering the field and increase the likelihood that they will stick with education as a career. For those who seek to build the pipeline for a strong future for Jewish education, residency programs are surely part of the solution.

Return to the issue home page:
HaYidion Jewish Educator Pipeline cover image
Jewish Educator Pipeline
Spring 2024
ad banner