Each spring, Delaware Teachers Institute Fellows arrive on campus to begin a twelve seminar journey. They gather together with a small group of teachers from our five partner districts to not only increase their content knowledge but ultimately write units that they will implement in their classroom and publish for other teachers to access.
Veteran fellow Dr. Barbara Prillaman began this journey for the first time in 2007 as a Yale National Initiative® Fellow and ultimately succeeded, through collaboration with other key partners, in bringing the model to the University of Delaware in 2010. In 2015 she enrolled in her fifth DTI seminar entitled Varieties of Censorship led by Dr. Eric Rise, Sociology and Criminal Justice faculty member at the University of Delaware. Dr. Rise has led multiple seminars for the Institute and also serves on the University Advisory Committee and Yale National Initiative® Steering Committee.
Throughout the course of the seminar Dr. Prillaman wrote a unit entitled Social Media and Censorshipthat she now uses in her dual enrollment sociology course taught to students at Conrad Schools of Science and through a virtual lab to students at Alfred I. DuPont High school. Students who successfully complete the course are eligible for Delaware Technical and Community College credit. Eight out of the ten units Dr. Prillaman uses to teach this course have been written as a result of her enrollment in DTI and YNI seminars.
One of the additional benefits to participation in a DTI seminar is the connections our Fellows make and sustain with university faculty. It was this connection that enabled Dr. Rise to play an integral role as Dr. Prillaman's unit came to life. Dr. Rise was recently invited to Conrad Schools of Science to present a guest lecture about the same topic his seminar focused on, varieties of censorship. Students in the two classes engaged in a discussion that focused on censorship in a number of areas including how we may or may not censor our own speech, how schools and institutions choose to censor certain resources and how the courts in the United States have dealt with censorship. Dr. Rise led students through these discussions and posed questions that challenged their beliefs and understandings.
Dr. Prillaman shared that the engagement of Dr. Rise in her classroom brought a multitude of benefits. Her high school students were able to interact with a well respected college professor and discuss a topic that impacts their everyday lives. Interacting in this way with a college professor gives these students the unique opportunity to see what it might be like to take one of his college level courses. For some it may make applying to and succeeding in college seem more achievable. This interaction also helped them to see that their teacher, Dr. Prillaman, sought out additional instruction on a complex topic so that she could strengthen their classroom experience. Lifelong commitment to education was on display by nature of this opportunity to bring Dr. Rise's impact on their teacher full circle.
Other UD Faculty members have visited the classrooms of their seminar fellows and the benefits for both the faculty member and classroom teacher are evident. As Delaware Teachers Institute continues to implement this model we look forward to continuing to deepen the possibilities of the partnership.