Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Teacher Education

The Washington Post has an editorial called "Teaching the Teachers."  In it they call for teachers to have more hands on  experience from the beginning of their training, to making sure we get teachers who are at the top of the class.

What they are trying to say is the old adage I heard for years "those who can, do; those who can't teach."  That is an insulting way of saying many teachers are in it because that is all they are capable of, want the many benefits and complain of the long hours.  I know we all have teachers we remember because they were so very good, impressed us with their knowledge, and to this day we use what they taught us.

Most of the teachers I have known personally were good teachers.  I think I could tell because of the way they spoke of their students. If they saw the students and their parents as the enemy it is a pretty good bet they were not good teachers. It they spoke enthusiasticaly about what was going on in their classes it was a good bet they were good teachers, those who would be remembered for a lifetime.

Here is a little of what the Washington Post has to say:
TEACHERS, LIKE DOCTORS, should receive their training through clinical practice. That conclusion of a national report calling for teacher education to be "turned upside down" makes sense. But if medicine is the model, this country also has to figure out how to attract its most accomplished graduates to teaching. Training is important in improving teacher quality, but so is making teaching a career that appeals to the best and the brightest.

Last week a panel of education experts convened by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education issued a report proposing an overhaul of how teachers are trained. It recommends a shift from the focus on classroom lectures and course work to practical hands-on experience. Those who aspire to teach would, from day one, be immersed in the actual work. Other suggestions include rigorous accountability measures for education schools and targeted research into which programs are most effective. It's an ambitious agenda, and it's unclear whether education schools, accrediting agents and individual school districts will have the will or the resources to sign on. But it's encouraging that a group generally not seen as on the cutting edge of reform is advancing these ideas and that eight states already have signaled their intent to add more clinical practice to their teaching training programs.

More attention also must be paid to the quality of those seeking to be trained as teachers. The report calls for raising admission, performance and graduation standards for aspiring teachers but leaves largely unanswered how to attract top talent.

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