Penn GSE

Urban Teaching Apprenticeship



The Penn GSE Urban Teaching Apprenticeship Program offers three study options which align with the Pennsylvania Department of Education certification bands: elementary (grades PreK-4), middle level (grades 4-8), and secondary (grades 7-12) education. All three programs share common organizational structures that help apprentices scaffold their learning and experiences.

A Summer Start

Unlike most teacher pre-service programs, the Penn GSE Urban Teaching Apprenticeship Program starts in July. Our students spend the summer months immersed in the Philadelphia neighborhoods where they will apprentice, learning how each school is part of the fabric of its surrounding community. Over the summer, students begin their coursework, which is always focused on relating theory to practice. Summer courses include:

  • School & Society (all three programs)
  • Teaching & Learning in Urban Contexts (secondary)
  • Social Studies Methods (elementary/middle level)
  • Teaching Diverse Learners, the year-long course in which issues of special education and second language learning are addressed
  • “Early start” literacy and math sessions

Full Year Apprenticeship – Beyond the Ordinary Student Teaching

Our students begin apprenticing in a Philadelphia public or charter school on the first day of the school year. Unlike traditional student teaching models, our apprentices experience nearly an entire year in the classroom, a unique opportunity that provides complete immersion in teaching and learning in schools, complemented by coursework and intensive mentoring. When our alumni seek employment after graduation, they already have a year of teaching experience on their résumé.

Throughout the 10 months, coursework is designed to weave together current theory, research, and practice to integrate with apprenticeship experiences so that students learn to think deeply and critically about their emerging practice in the classroom.

Apprentices attend seminars and panel discussions that address a variety of subjects related to helping teachers understand the growth and development of their students, how to engage the arts in promoting engagement in learning, as well as the use of technology to support student learning. Throughout the program, students learn about various forms of assessment and relate these to Pennsylvania Common Core and content standards for learning.

Support from Mentors

In addition to our expert faculty, dedicated mentors support our students throughout the 10-month program. Students work with Classroom Mentors—highly skilled, practicing teachers—who provide hands-on guidance, problem solving, and feedback in the moment. Penn Mentors provide ongoing feedback and support, conduct mock interviews, and write letters of recommendation. 

Becoming a Penn GSE Urban Teaching Apprenticeship Alum

After completing the Urban Teaching Apprenticeship Program, students graduate with a Master of Science in Education degree (M.S.Ed.) as well as faculty recommendation for the Pennsylvania teacher certificate, awarded by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.