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About TC Buddies

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The Teachers College Reading and Math Buddy Program is part of the Arthur Zankel Urban Fellows Program at Teachers College, Columbia University. The Reading and Math Buddy Program is a systemic effort at whole school improvement that builds on consistent daily intervention, tutoring and mentorship of struggling learners.  The Reading and Math Buddy Program is a Complementary Embedded  Education Program (CEEP) that occurs during the school day generally between 8AM and noon.  The program provides opportunities for Knowledge Creation  for school leaders, and serves as a catalyst for Organisational Learning and improvement within the classroom and the school.

TC Buddies: A Community of Practice

This initiative unites Teachers College students with inner-city youth in neighboring NYC public schools. The program, established in 2004 by Dr. Dawn Arno, funds approximately forty (40) Math and Reading Buddy positions each year.  Reading and Math Buddies are graciously funded through both the Arthur Zankel Urban Fellowship program and Federal Work Study funds.

The Reading and Math Buddy Program is unique for several reasons:

  • It’s mission is committed to the bigger picture of whole school improvement through Knowledge Sharing and Organizational Learning.  Strong, positive, long-term relationships  are built with school administrators to support this goal and to ensure successful program implementation and the seamless integration of Buddies into the school and classrooms.
  • The work of the Reading and Math Buddies is intended to be both a supplement and a complement to the work of the classroom teacher. Therefore,  collaboration & cooperation between classroom teacher and the Reading or Math Buddy is key to the program’s success.  On Alternate Fridays, the TC Buddies spend their scheduled two hours in the classroom, helping the teacher and other students in need of help.
  • The Reading and Math Buddy program is designed around the 3C Buddy model…Changing the CONTEXT of teaching and learning for the struggling learner, providing challenging, customised and appropriate CONTENT for each individual child, and the building of  the child’s CONFIDENCE as a learner.   3Cs – CONTEXT, CONTENT and CONFIDENCE in self as a learner.
  • The program considers consistency in working with children, one of its highest priorities.  Math and Reading Buddies are expected to visit their respective schools on a daily basis, working Monday through Thursday for two hours each day, dedicating thirty (30) minutes to each of their four students/tutees. Buddies remain at the same school and work with the same four children for the duration of the College’s academic year, from October to May.
  • The TC students selected to serve as Reading or Math Buddies bring a wide variety of experiences in working with children. Some are certified teachers who have returned to pursue advanced graduate degrees. Many have taught both domestically and internationally, and they all bring a commitment to helping improve the educational opportunity and academic achievement of their tutees.
  • Reading and Math Buddies are well prepared.  They are afforded the time, training and necessary tools to meet the needs of each individual child’s academic, social, and emotional development.  Prior to entering the schools in October each year, Math and Reading Buddies participate daily in a month-long training to review theoretical and practical essentials in the teaching of Reading and of Mathematics, with a specific focus on helping struggling learners.  Their professional development and training continue throughout the academic year, with the Buddies meeting on alternate Fridays as a Community of Practice under the leadership of the program Director.
  • The fellowship program is benefited by structural components such as an online blog, bi-weekly group meetings, and simultaneous coursework at Teachers College. Each of these components is essential in building an infrastructure that enhances communication and organizational development.
  • The fellowship program is fortunate to have as its founding director, Dr. Dawn Arno an experienced K -12 administrator and expert in organizational development and organizational learning.
  • The Reading and Math Buddy program is designed to bridge theory with practice, and recognizes that this Reading and Math Buddy Program is invaluable in helping the TC students themselves, as they relate their class work to the practical and real world of the classroom.

By being consistent, the Buddies are able to build strong relationships with the classroom teachers, students, and their four individual tutees.  By being consistent, the Math and Reading Buddies are able to use the time not only for tutoring, but also for providing consistent scaffolding, support and mentoring of their tutees in academic and non-academic areas.   With this consistency, a trusting environment is developed and the youth are given a space where they feel safe, respected, and cared for.  With the creation of this space, and trusting relationship between big Buddies and the little buddies/tutees,  students who have struggled in school in the past, often flourish not only academically, but socially and emotionally as well.

For more information, click here for a copy of the 2010-2011 Handbook for Cooperating Teachers.