Friday, October 22, 2010

How do we Teach Future Teachers?

I remember the words of wisdom my supervising professor bestowed upon me shortly before I began student teaching as an undergraduate. He said, “you will learn more on the first day of teaching than you have during four years of college.” And you know what? He was absolutely correct.

The article, How Should we Teach our Future Teachers, released in July by the Associated Press addresses the sentiment my professor was trying to convey. New teachers are entering schools unprepared to face the job that lay before them.

The article begins by following the experiences of first year math teacher, Hemant Mehta. He explains that despite courses in pedagogy and education history, he struggled with basics like classroom management and was forced to find help on his own by means of web message boards, colleagues, and social networking sites like Twitter.

Mehta's story is not uncommon. This is because college programs focus largely on formal education and less on the “nuts and bolts” of the classroom. The article explains that this problem is difficult to solve because there is no national standard – every state is free to determine what is required of a teaching certification candidate. Fortunately, the government is beginning to get involved, and this may better align the states.

President Obama's budget includes a proposed expansion of the government's role in teacher training programs, which could infuse more than $400 million into preparing teachers for the classroom. This could be the push that could cahnge the focus from teaching education theory to teaching education craft.

This article addresses issues with teachers entering the workforce without adaquate training. This is only one part of the problem. From a district perspective, the real concern is what to do with new or newly hired teachers who have the gaps. Like my former professor explained, the best way to learn is by doing, but districts cannot afford to wait out the 2-3 year learning curve that most teachers experience. Districts need to consider this lack of skills and strategies with developing new teacher orientations and professional development.

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