Master of Science in Education in the Art of Teaching



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The Sarah Lawrence College Art of Teaching program is an integrated Master of Science in Education (MS Ed) program of study that leads to dual New York State certification in Early Childhood and Childhood Education (birth to 6th grade).

Academic Program

Teaching is understood to be an art form—ever in the making, never finished, and always in response to the individual child and children in a particular setting. Sarah Lawrence's Art of Teaching program gives students a solid philosophical background in current thinking about educational theory and practice.

Program Overview

  • Art of Teaching is a child-centered (birth through 6th grade), culturally sensitive, interdisciplinary teacher education program centered on observation of children.
  • The program is committed to public education, including urban schools. Graduates find teaching positions in a range of public and private schools.
  • Seminar-style courses provide an intimate intellectual setting in a collaborative community of individuals.
  • Graduate students reflect a range of ages and backgrounds. Students discover a great deal about how they themselves learn in every class by recollecting, reflecting on, and sharing their own learning experiences in childhood and as adults. This sharing significantly informs the inquiry into teaching and learning.
  • Students learn not only how to observe, but also how to articulate and describe what they see. The “Prospect Descriptive Processes” provide important strategies for observing and documenting children and teaching practices. Patricia Carini, under whose leadership these processes were developed, has been a major influence on the program.
  • Students work with children at every point in the program—outside the classroom; in their jobs; at the Early Childhood Center; and in fieldwork and student teaching placements at public and independent schools.  
  • Each student’s work culminates in an oral presentation of a focused master’s project, accompanied by documentation of coursework and work with children in classrooms.
  • The program prepares students to integrate the New York State Common Core Curriculum Standards into their practice, and leads to New York State Early Childhood (birth to 2nd grade) and Childhood (1st to 6th grade) Teacher Certification.
  • The program provides ongoing support for alumni and their colleagues through a Saturday Seminar Series.

Program Requirements

The Art of Teaching is designed as one program that offers dual certification in early childhood (birth to grade 2) and childhood (1-6).

The dual certification program may be completed in two years and a summer on a full-time basis, or in three years and two summers on a part-time basis.

Typical Course of Study


Summer courses

  • The Child and the Family (3 credits)
  • Children’s Literature (3 credits)
  • Foundations of Education (3 credits)
  • Theories of Development (3 credits)

Year One

  • Emergent Curriculum I & II (10 credits)
  • Mathematics and Technology I & II (10 credits)
  • Observation and Documentation (3 credits)
  • Advisement seminar
  • Field placements (180 hours, two age/grade levels)

Year Two

  • Language and Literacy I & II (10 credits)
  • Children with Special Needs (3 credits)
  • Practicum seminar
  • Student teaching (90 days, two age/grade levels)
  • Master’s project
  • Emergent Curriculum (10 credits)
  • Language and Literacy (10 credits)
  • Mathematics and Technology (10 credits)
  • Field placement
  • Student teaching

Fieldwork & Student Teaching

Students integrate work with children with ideas generated in course seminars at every point in the program.

  • In the first year in the program, students fulfill field placement requirements at the Early Childhood Center or in local public school classrooms. Internships also may be available at the Early Childhood Center.
  • In the final year in the program, students work alongside a host teacher for three full days a week within select public school classrooms, one semester in each certification track.
  • Student-teaching placements are available in a variety of public, independent, urban, and suburban schools in New York City and Westchester that serve children from different socioeconomic backgrounds.
  • A carefully chosen host teacher supervises students and models practice grounded in observation and documentation, which leads to knowing each child fully. If a student is already employed as a full-time teacher, the supervisor is a member of the Art of Teaching faculty.
  • Additionally, students have the opportunity to work alongside Center for the Urban River education staff and participate in the "A Day in the Life of the Hudson River" annual event, during which students facilitate teaching and learning with elementary school students as they engage in hands-on Hudson River data collection. This interaction supports the "Emergent Curriculum" course, which integrates science education and emphasizes the importance of out-of-the-classroom field trip experiences.

Master’s Project

The foundation for the master’s project is the teaching/learning inquiry, which Art of Teaching students undertake throughout their time in the program. Students collect documentation in portfolio format, which includes:

  • Longitudinal records and reflective journals of work with children and teachers
  • Descriptions of children and their work
  • Descriptions of curriculum and activities developed and used with children
  • Reflections on teaching practice
  • Bibliographies of children’s literature and professional literature
  • Critique and integration of theory

Upon completion of course work, fieldwork, and student-teaching requirements, master’s candidates prepare a final project in their last semester in the program.

  • Students present projects orally to a review panel made up of their peers, Art of Teaching faculty, invited undergraduate liberal arts faculty, and supervising teachers.
  • Students share their projects with their peers in preparation for presenting to the final review panel.
  • The criteria for evaluating the master’s project are jointly established by students and faculty.

Certification & Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the master’s program, students are recommended for the MS Ed degree and are entered into the New York State Education Department TEACH database as eligible for initial certification in Early Childhood and Childhood Education.

This follows completion of these New York State (NYS) certification requirements:

  • NYS Teacher Certification requires passing scores on all New York State-mandated tests, and completion of the New York State mandated workshops in Child Abuse and Maltreatment Identification, School Violence Prevention and Intervention, and Dignity for All Students.
  • New York State Teacher Examinations include: the Educating All Students Test (EAS) and the Multi-Subject Content Specialty Tests in Early Childhood and Childhood Education. In addition, NYS requires successful completion of the edTPA (Teacher Performance Assessment), with the submission of video clips, lesson plans, and student work from the prospective teacher’s field experience.
  • New York State and Title II of the 1999 National Higher Education Act require schools offering teacher education programs to publish their institutional pass rates on State Teacher Exams.

Alumni of the Art of Teaching program are employed as teachers in public or private early childhood and elementary schools; as school administrators or curriculum developers; as teacher educators; and some go on to PhD programs.

What Our Graduates Do
  • Classroom teachers work in urban and suburban private and public schools, in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade.
  • Teachers and directors of early childhood programs work in childcare centers, Head Start programs, and community service centers.
  • Special-area teachers enrich the experiences of elementary school children in the arts and other areas.
  • School administrators and staff developers lead and support elementary school teachers.
  • College teachers at community and liberal arts colleges educate students to become classroom teachers.

Program Accreditation

In 2013, the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation granted CAEP (Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation) accreditation to Sarah Lawrence College’s Art of Teaching graduate program for the maximum term of seven years.

The M.S.Ed. program was rated “Above Standard” in all three quality principles on which CAEP/TEAC accreditation is based: Candidate Learning, Faculty Learning, and Capacity and Commitment. View the eight annual reporting measures for the Art of Teaching program (2016-17; PDF)

Sara Wilford, founder of the Art of Teaching program, said of the accreditation: “This rigorous accreditation process was challenging and inspiring. Both fair and transparent, it will guide us in our efforts to take the program to new levels of excellence.”

Part of the accreditation process is a “Call for Comment” by the Accreditation Council to current and former students, faculty, and educators in the field. Here is a sample of the feedback collected:

“The Art of Teaching Program at SLC is exemplary. Since the 1980s, it has consistently provided aspiring educators with the most innovative preparation in early childhood and childhood teaching.”

“This program has offered an opportunity for me to develop my educational values and teaching philosophy grounded in the promises of progressive practices. I feel supported, guided, and cared for by my faculty and program director.”

“I realized from the get-go that I had much to learn from this absolutely incredible program. After two fruitful semesters, I am eagerly looking forward to future semesters with these amazing professors.”

“Art of Teaching is a unique program, a true gem. I feel so lucky to have been educated there.”

Children, Childhood, and Education at Sarah Lawrence College

The Impact of COVID-19 on Young Children, Families, and Teachers

Denisha JonesIn her role as a co-director for Defending the Early Years, Art of Teaching program director Denisha Jones combines her work as a teacher-educator and advocate for equitable early childhood education through research, blog posts, and the promotion of best practices for protecting childhood. This summer, Defending the Early Years surveyed early childhood teachers and parents to better understand the impact COVID-19 and remote schooling had on their lives. We invite you to read this report and share your thoughts on the findings and recommendations. You can reach us at

Download report (407 KB)
Download infographic (1.7 MB)

Reflections on Teaching and Learning in the Age of COVID-19

Headshot style photo of Jerusha BeckermanAll year in the Art of Teaching Saturday Seminar Series we have been inquiring into the college’s theme of E Pluribus Unum as it so beautifully fits with the work of teaching children. This is even more poignantly true now, as the notions of community and togetherness have been so dramatically shifted for all of us, and in some ways rendered abstract. We felt it was therefore all the more important to find a way to make space for our own community to connect and regroup during this heavily challenging time.

Read the full opinion piece by Art of Teaching faculty member Jerusha Beckerman MSEd ’12

How Will Teacher and Principal Training Look in a COVID-19 World?

virella.jpegI remember driving home from my first week of teaching, crying. Building a classroom community, working with an incompatible co-teacher, and learning a new curriculum weighed down on me. There was also the realization that I was now a teacher. I called my mentor and reflected on my week through gulps and sobs. As she listened, she reminded me of classroom management practices I had seen as a student-teacher.

Read the full opinion piece by Art of Teaching faculty member Patricia VirellaMS ’09

Relationship, connection, and collaboration are at the core of life and learning at Sarah Lawrence College – academic, social, students, faculty, staff, on campus and with our community partners. Despite, or perhaps because of, the need for physical distancing and the ever-changing times we find ourselves in, now more than ever we all need to steep ourselves in what we value - relationship, connection, and collaboration.

Read the full message at our Child Development Institute website, and learn how you can get involved.

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