‘My experience as a STEPie continues to inform my work in research, policy and practice.’
I began my Stanford Teacher Education Program in 2003, three weeks after graduating from Amherst College. I came to STEP, simply, to get my credential. While at Amherst, I spent four years as a volunteer tutor at an after-school program in a working-class community. Having had great success engaging students one-on-one and assisting them with their homework, I was confident that I would be an effective teacher.
However, after taking three content methods courses with Pam Grossman, an adolescent development course with Linda Darling-Hammond, and Rachel Lotan’s heterogeneous classrooms course, I realized that teaching was much more complex than I had originally thought. I discovered that learning the science and art of how to teach for social justice was hard, and that how to create the conditions in one’s classroom to support learning for historically marginalized children was really hard!
I know that the success I had as a public school high school teacher in New York City — evidenced by the emails I still receive from former students about how I positively influenced their lives and provided them with the skills to be successful in college — was a direct result of the high-quality preparation I received at Stanford. My experience as a STEPie continues to inform my work in research, policy and practice.
Now, as a Peter Paul Assistant Professor at Boston University, I have had the opportunity to thought-partner with international, national, state and local policymakers on efforts to increase, support and retain a more racially and ethnically diverse educator workforce.
Currently, I am the lead researcher of the country’s boldest teacher-diversity initiative, NYC Men Teach, which aims to add 1,000 additional male teachers of color to public schools across New York City. The preparation that novice educators of color receive is central to my discussions with policymakers and practitioners and to my own research. STEP continues to be my frame of reference for high-quality teacher preparation.
Travis J. Bristol earned his MA in 2004 in the Stanford Teacher Education Program and a PhD from Teachers College at Columbia University in 2014. In 2015, he was chosen to receive the first Teacher Diversity Award from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.
Photo: Linda A. Cicero/Stanford News Service