February 22, 2017: TEACH-NOW CEO Emily Feistritzer featured in Forbes interview regarding her life-long entrepreneurial spirit and some of the challenges she encountered creating TECH-NOW. Read it here!
November 26, 2016: TEACH-NOW was featured by PBS Newshour, detailing its history, mission and unique story of its founder, Emily Feistritzer. Watch here!
November 10, 2016: TEACH-NOW President, Dr. Philip Schmidt, is presenting his paper,TEACH-NOW: A 21st-Century Approach to the Online Preparation of Teachers throughout the World, at the 9th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation (ICERI2016) held in Seville, Spain, on Nov. 14-16, 2016. President Schmidt will also serve as chair for a session covering Digital Teaching Skills. Learn more about ICERI2016, one of the largest international education conferences highlighting innovation in education and technology, here.
Aug. 21, 2016: TEACH-NOW CEO Emily Feistritzer featured in The Washington Post: Former nun sees life as a series of experiences, including lucrative ones
Aug. 1, 2016: TEACH-NOW relocates to bigger space – check out the slide show of photos here!
May 6, 2016: Emily Feistritzer recognized
by Washington SmartCEO as an outstanding woman CEO in the Washington, DC area.
Oct. 2, 2015: TEACH-NOW and the Educatore School of Education has been elevated to “Accreditation Eligible” status by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).
Sept. 2, 2015: EdWeek talks about our impending expansion:
WASHINGTON, D.C.—September 2, 2015—TEACHNOW, Inc., a rapidly growing online teacher preparation start-up that has spent the past four years developing a new model to improve teacher education, announced today that it has hired one of the nation’s top education deans to scale up its efforts to prepare 10,000 new teachers over the next five years. Awarded status as an institution of higher education by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education of the District of Columbia, TEACHNOW, Inc. has opened the doors of its Educatore School of Education, offering a number of tracks of a Master’s in Education degree, several of which lead to teacher certification in virtually all areas of the curriculum.
Dr. Philip A. Schmidt, the former dean of the largest teacher preparation program in the United States, will join forces with Dr. Emily Feistritzer, a key catalyst of the alternative certification movement, to expand the new online approach in the United States and across the globe. The online TEACH-NOW licensure program now resides under the aegis of TEACHNOW, Inc.’s brand-new Educatore School of Education, set to begin offering Master’s degree programming in September.
Piloting its digital platform with 10 students in March 2013, the start-up enrolls approximately 600 candidates in 42 states and 50 countries. Successful candidates in the United States can gain a teaching license in most states in all areas of the curriculum and at all levels through reciprocity agreements with Arizona and the District of Columbia.
“TEACH-NOW is the only cohort-based, activity-based, collaborative model for teacher education that addresses what teaching is and was meant to be—a truly collaborative profession,” according to Schmidt, who led the Teachers College at Western Governors University as it grew from less than 100 candidates in 2001 to 14,000 students today.
How it Works
Unlike other teacher preparation programs, whether online start-ups or traditional brick-and-mortar institutions, TEACH-NOW is a project-based learning-to-teach model where candidates are grouped in small cohorts and move through a series of project-based modules together, working and learning collaboratively in virtual meetings, discussions, and group work as well as individual projects, with a focus on deep interaction among candidates and instructors.
Part of TEACH-NOW’s unique approach is the low 12:1 candidate-to-instructor ratio, which in initial testing proved to be optimal, providing students with a cohort large enough to promote shared learning across a diverse group of students and small enough to ensure that instructors and candidates all know each other well.
The preparation program also helps teachers become comfortable with the technology that their future students have already mastered. Teacher candidates use technology to complete every activity, from creating infographics to producing videos of their practice teaching. They are also sharing information with not only their instructors but with the entire cohort of candidates—including a large percentage from other nations—thanks to a pioneering patent-pending digital platform.
The platform is highly dynamic and interactive, encouraging collaboration among peers. “We have people who are experienced teachers and others who have never stepped a foot in the classroom, but after a short period of time, you can’t tell the difference,” according to Feistritzer. “The one who never taught before brings a level of questioning the more experienced teacher has never thought about. Everyone winds up being an expert for their peers on different things.”
With the advent of social media and the virtual world, teaching no longer has to be one person working alone in a classroom, according to Feistritzer. “We now have a model that has been tested around the world that is creating a new kind of teacher—not disseminators of knowledge or techniques—but who are resource-rich diagnosticians who know their students, help them learn and develop, and dig deep into a broad repertoire of ever-expanding best practices and tools. They use technology like the digital natives they teach.”
The TEACH-NOW program operates in any web-based environment and is fully customizable. The nine-month teacher preparation certificate program costs $6,000, while the new 12-month master’s degree program will cost $13,000.
High Retention, Unique Demographics
TEACH-NOW has a 93 percent graduation rate to date and enrolls an unusually high proportion of male candidates and people of color. While 76 percent of the current U.S. teaching force is female and 82 percent is white, 40 percent of TEACH-NOW candidates are male, and 45 percent are Asian, Latino, black, and other racial/ethnic groups.
TEACH-NOW also attracts a disproportionate share of younger people seeking to make teaching a career—77 percent come to TEACH-NOW in their 20s or 30s; 18 percent in their 40s and 5 percent are over 50.
Forty percent of TEACH-NOW candidates are outside the United States; 40 percent come with prior teaching experience, and 40 percent enter with a Master’s or higher academic degree.
The approach has caught on with its candidates. Students who have participated in the program say that they enter the classroom knowing how to use technology, find resources, plan for instruction, manage the learning environment, and have greatly benefited from the collaborative, project-based approach.
Primed for Expansion
With a U.S. and international market, a focus on teaching digital natives, and a scalable growth model based on its cohort-based approach, “the sky is the limit” for TEACH-NOW’s future growth, Feistritzer says. The program’s relatively low cost and cohort model with one instructor per cohort has allowed TEACH-NOW to scale up quickly, hiring new instructors as each new group of 12 candidates comes on board. Launched with $250,000 in seed money from the New Schools Venture Fund, TEACH-NOW’s scalable model ensures that the program will remain financially viable and independent from corporate sponsors.
Along with its growth in the United States, TEACH-NOW is gaining traction internationally through a partnership approach with institutions and organizations in several countries. “TEACH-NOW is not only on the leading edge of online educator preparation nationally, it is also a game changer in global teacher preparation,” according to Schmidt. “TEACH-NOW is partnering with the international community to strengthen existing teacher preparation programs in other nations.”
The University of the Pacific employs the complete TEACH-NOW curriculum in one of its master’s degree programs. TEACH-NOW is also partnering with The Teaching Foundation in India, which is adapting the curriculum for candidates there.
Meeting Schools’ Needs
The TEACH-NOW program has been carefully designed to prepare teachers who can address the immediate challenges schools face. “The ability to certify candidates in a tight time frame is helping schools meet pressing needs in shortage areas,” says Feistritzer. “We already are seeing evidence that our graduates are rated highly by their principals and are having an impact on learning, and we will be monitoring performance of all our graduates and tracking their effectiveness.”
In Washington, D.C., two individuals who are still candidates—Samiyyah Toney and Dorothy Smith—have been rated as exemplary teachers, earning bonuses as determined by the district’s IMPACT teacher accountability system, a rigorous five-part part evaluation of teaching practice that includes examining student achievement gains over the school year.
“We’re not surprised by this,” Feistritzer says. “We teach to what teachers are evaluated on—the best practices of teaching, what works to help improve student development and learning, and bringing new resources into the classroom.
TEACH-NOW is a highly successful online teacher preparation program that has rapidly expanded worldwide with U.S. and international partners. The unique approach to teacher preparation clears the way for college graduates, including career switchers, to be certified to teach in the United States and overseas. Its success led to the creation of the Educatore School of Education which enables candidates to also earn a Master’s degree in education. The centerpiece of TEACH-NOW and the Educatore School of Education is what’s called “collaborative activity-based learning,” which, simply put, has its teacher candidates learn by doing projects together with an instructor. Dr. Emily Feistritzer, a nationally recognized leader in teacher preparation, began creating TEACH-NOW in 2011, determined to revolutionize the way teachers are trained. And that is what she’s done. With a highly selective admissions policy and a hands-on training philosophy, TEACH-NOW’s teacher candidates are graduating, getting certified and landing jobs—ready and able to make a difference.