Our friends at the New York Times have a forum called Room for Debate, and this week’s conversation centered around teaching the teachers. In other words, the forum focused on education degrees, the way teachers are taught, and the endless hoops that they are often told they need to jump through before stepping in front of a classroom. High teacher quality is among the most important ‘reforms’ coming from the Department of Education, but as you can see, many teachers are the biggest critics of the degrees they are often forced to pursue (at least if they want a pay increase). Among BoardBuzz‘s favorite quotes from one teacher:
I believe that the best preparation for teaching is a combination of pedagogy and a strong apprenticeship a marriage of traditional preparatory and alternative certification programs. All new teachers would benefit from a year of full-time work in the classroom beside an experienced and effective teacher. We learn by practicing even the best surgeon in the world is useless until he has proven his skill on the table.
And in a related story, Jay Mathews at the Washington Post spotlighted a well respected teacher who teaches social studies in Prince George’s County, Md., and practiced law until he “got sick of it” and wanted to teach at his alma mater. His tale is strikingly similar to many who posted on the New York Times story, and we can’t help but wonder how many thousands of similar stories could be told around the nation. Does an education degree really mean a good teacher will follow the piece of paper? In a society that is changing jobs more often than ever, and teaching a generation of students that will likely change jobs even more often than that, how do we teach today’s teachers well? Are methods from the 1960s (or before, even) the best way for 21st century teaching, not to mention learning? If we expect that from the students, it starts with the person leading them, doesn’t it?
As school leaders, what do you think? How can we alter the way teachers are taught to prepare students well, teach effectively, and not be forced to brow-beat prospective teachers into strigent rules that are often difficult to follow. Leave a comment to tell us how you would change teacher prep.