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Teaching Ambassador Fellowship

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Programmatic Questions

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  1. What is the Teaching Ambassador Fellowship?
  2. Why did the Department develop the Teaching Ambassador Fellowship?
  3. What is the difference between the Washington and Classroom Fellowships?
  4. What specific tasks do Washington and Classroom Fellows perform?
  5. How are teachers selected as Fellows?
  6. How competitive is this program?
  7. When does the program start and how long will it run?
  8. What do teachers do after the Fellowship?
  9. Whom should I contact for further information?

1. What is the Teaching Ambassador Fellowship?

The Teaching Ambassador Fellowship is an initiative that is designed to improve education for students by involving practicing teachers in the development and implementation of education policy. Teaching Ambassador Fellows are selected to work for the U.S. Department of Education full-time at Headquarters, as Washington Fellows, and part-time on an hourly basis from their home communities, as Classroom Fellows. Fellows are classroom teachers on loan from their school or district through the Intergovernmental Personnel Act Authority. They are paid to assist the Department at the Department’s expense and gain valuable professional development and experience with Federal materials and information. During their Fellowship, Fellows learn about the U.S. Department of Education’s programs, resources and policies, share this information with other educators, and provide their own input and the input of others to the national conversation on education.

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2. Why did the Department develop the Teaching Ambassador Fellowship?

The Teaching Ambassador Fellowship was initiated in 2007 to further the Department's mission by providing the opportunity for a cadre of outstanding teachers to contribute their classroom expertise to the national dialogue and in turn to facilitate similar discussion with educators across the country. For the Fellows, the program allows them to add greater knowledge of policy and leadership to their toolkits to serve as further leaders in the field and create solutions for long intractable educational challenges at all levels.

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3. What is the difference between the Washington and Classroom Fellowships?

Washington Fellows become full-time employees of the Department of Education in Washington, D.C. Classroom Fellows remain in their schools performing their usual duties as a teacher and are paid an hourly rate to perform additional Fellowship duties for the Department of Education for the Fellowship year. Be sure to read the Program Overview for more information about the two programs.

Given that the programs differ in time commitment, intensity, and location, applicants can anticipate different experiences and unique challenges and benefits from each. Washington Fellows gain more in-depth policy knowledge and skills over the year and have greater opportunity to contribute ideas directly. However, Washington Fellows have more limited access to sharing information with other educators. Classroom Fellows are more strategically placed to share information with colleagues and observe the implementation of federal policy at the state and local level. Given time constraints, Classroom Fellows have more limited opportunity to directly interact with Department staff, but they bring greater credibility with their peers based on the fact that they were in the classroom yesterday and will be back there the next day. Classroom Fellows also appreciate that they don’t have to leave students or create a major disruption for their families, but are still able to contribute to and learn about federal education policy.

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4. What specific tasks do Washington and Classroom Fellows perform?

Washington Fellows are placed in offices within the Department of Education to gain in-depth knowledge of Department initiatives; provide their perspectives to senior staff; share relevant school and classroom experiences with internal and external audiences; and facilitate discussion amongst educators about policy in D.C. and in areas around the country as necessary.

Classroom Fellows work primarily at the local, state and regional level with Regional Communications staff to gain knowledge of key Department initiatives and how these intersect with state and local efforts; work with Department staff to gather and share information with constituencies in the region; and periodically share relevant school and classroom experiences with internal and external audiences.

All Fellows frequently work together to bring their specific expertise and knowledge to the Department and the field. Specific Fellowship work has varied year to year and Fellow to Fellow, but some activities that have been designed to meet the Fellowship goals are: Hosting round-tables with education stakeholders; meeting with federal, state, and local policy makers to understand the interface across the levels on key issues; writing and sharing specific ED publications with teachers face to face or electronically; organizing conferences or school visits with Senior Staff; or sharing Department resources and information with educators at national conferences. TOP


5. How are teachers selected as Fellows?

Teachers are selected through a competitive application process. In addition to meeting the basic eligibility criteria, applicants are selected based on impact on student learning; leadership record; insight based on school and classroom experience; communication skills; school community support; and capacity for the work of the Fellowship. Applications are rated based on six narrative questions addressing each of these areas and verification and further support is required from the applicant's resume and letters of recommendation. The most highly rated applicants are then asked to participate in telephone and/or in-person individual and group interviews in order to select the most qualified and representative team of Fellows.

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6. How competitive is this program?

The Department receives between 600-1000 applications each year.

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7. When does the program start and how long will it run?

The program is expected to run from approximately August to July each year.

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8. What do teachers do after the Fellowship?

The Teaching Ambassador Fellowship is designed to assist practicing teachers to add greater knowledge of policy and education leadership to their classroom expertise to serve as future leaders in education from a variety of venues. A goal of the IPA agreement for Washington Fellows is to ensure that they are able to return to their school and districts after the Fellowship year. However, we encourage employers to think of innovative ways to take advantage of the knowledge and experience gained by Fellows. Classroom Fellows, of course, keep their regular teaching contracts throughout the Fellowship, but again, we encourage schools and districts to be innovative in taking advantage of the knowledge of policy gained by Fellows during their year.

Previous Fellows have built on their experiences in a variety of ways, including more advanced scholarship [PDF, 1.53MB], participation in federal, state or local panels, and continuing to develop conduits by which to share information and resources.

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9. Whom should I contact for further information?

For questions about the program during the application process, please call 1-800-USALEARN or email TeacherFellowship@ed.gov. You can also sign up to receive email updates about the program.

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Last Modified: 01/07/2013