We share evidence-based K-12 learning strategies that empower you to improve education.
Oh wow! I wish I had had that training regimen!
The more hands-on teaching experiences, the better preparation. What a novel idea for teaching how to teach. They must have gotten the idea from the very effective but old apprenticeships from their history courses.
That is not such a radical idea. Applying learning theory WITHIN teacher training is a common practice in the field of early childhood. In fact now there have been some suggestions and research for the idea of having all teachers work in early childhood environments as a part of their training.
How My College Didn't Teach Me!
My biggest problem is finding a job in the teaching field! I am a man in early childhood and dispite what you hear, they don't seem to want them.
I worry that if/when I do find a job, I will have forgotten most of what the college filled me up with. One responder above mentioned that education has to do with money. This is very true. I think that same responder was complaining they had too write too many lesson plans.
I don't think I had one course on how to make a lesson plan! (no seriously I'll explain). When we were told to write lesson plans we were just expected to know how to do it. No good clear cut examples were ever given, when actually the opposite should have taken place! With over 200+ years of American education under our belts now, they could have issued us whole text books of copies of excellent teacher's whole year's plans so as to show us what needs to be covered throughout the year. We were encouraged to make elaborate, creative, innovative, "hands-on", lesson plans which in reality are very impractical to implement and very often doomed to failure!
I think there were about 19 classes to get certified as a teacher. I will now name them and briefly and sarcastically tell what they were about:
1. PSY 305 Child Development - (People grow up and mature into adults, at least we would hope!).
2. IEC 610 Critical Issues - (Education is controversial and different people have different ideas about it!).
3. SED 515 Human Exceptionality - (People are different, REAL different!).
4. IEC 630 The Whole Child - (More child development, don't be too hard on the little buggers!).
5. EDU 517 Computers and Instruction - (Computers are really cool things, so cool in fact you don't even need school. It was this course that introduced me to Online Universities!).
6. IEC 555 Promoting Litature/Reading Development - (Reading is virtuous; do it often and as much as possible with kids!)
7. IEC 530 Integrated Curriculum - (Individual subjects are poo pooed. You must integrate all subjects together at the same time to make your lessons as "life-like" as possible!).
8. EDU 535 Communication Development and Disorders - (Babies accquire language and learn to talk-imagine that. Some of us have communication disorders- teachers watch out for that!).
9. EDU 530 Phonics and Linguistics - (Finally a good course to teach kids with, only problem is, it's only one of many ways and you don't have to use it if you don't want to!).
10. IEC 533 Working with Families and Agencies - (This course sound good but in reality was the least useful of all! We studied agencies such as hospitals and childrens' rights groups.).
11. IEC 510 Assessing and Diagnosing Young Children - (Again this course focused on the "Atypical child". Dilouged with political correctness, we couldn't just study how to be a teacher, we had to keep searching for these special kids...)
12. EDU 625 Communication/Colaboration/Consultation - (I'll rename this course, "How to get along with the Special Education/Inclusion Teacher!).
13. EDU 540 Emergent Litature for Beginning Readers - (To sum it up; Preschoolers' read easier books than the higher grades!)
14. FSW MU Child Care Administration - (We had to build, construct, and run our own child care palace from the ground up; including all expenses and budget. Fun but nothing to do with teaching!).
15., 16., 17., 18., & 19. Three practicums, Student Teaching, and a Seminar. - (This is where you find out teaching is HARD and real hard if your college doesn't properly prepare you!).
Central Michigan University - in the classrooms with students for all four years.
Freshman year = For one hour a week, first few weeks observing, then moving into doing the attendance and lunch money, handling student movement in and out of the classroom, working with individual students, correcting papers, giving spelling tests, etc. Learning about all the details that can throw you if you haven't practiced them. We were in a different classroom each week as part of the Ed 101 class, in which we discussed what we were doing and shared how the veteran teachers handled these details.
Sophomore year = working with small groups of students, preparing and teaching short project lessons, going to staff meetings, etc. In the classroom at least half a day a week, along with Ed 200 classes and reflective thinking.
By the end of this year, many of us had a better idea of what grades and/or subjects we wanted to teach and a bag full of classroom management techniques.
Junior year = 6 weeks half day in one classroom, doing lessons, teaming with mentor teacher along with the regular 300 level education methods courses.
Senior year = full semester all day in one classroom = student teaching with full responsibility, along with support from a mentor teacher.
This type of teacher training needs to happen for all teachers.
Here is a research idea...Let apply learning theory WITHIN teacher training programs. Universities model the learning environments they want created in schools and see what happens. Radical idea, but would it work?
Somethings I know; somethings I don't.
I personally went through the teacher preparation courses like all of you, come to find out that when you are acutally in the classroom, by yourself with 20 kids, its a whole different ball game. No one tells you how to deal with administration, rude parents, children who are defiant-all of that you learn on your own with hands-on experiences on a daily basis. I would of like to have taken a course where they set up real classroom/school scenarios and they prep you on how to deal with them. Honestly, besides learning all the theory from my university courses, I can say that I learned the most from being a substitute-in regards to dealing with students. Student teaching was great, yet at the same time, you were not on your own. I would recommend teachers to sub so that they can get a feel for what they will be coming into.
The college I attended was abysmal in preparing teachers. Part of the reason was, as many have mentioned above, indifferent professors in the college of education. Part of the reason, and why I stuck around for an additional 100 credit hours or so at the bachelor's level and two masters degrees, was that too many hours were wasted on 'how to teach' classes ... and almost none in the actual content one should be able to teach.
If I had a magic wand and could transform education I think I would require one semester of pedagogy at the end of the sophomore year, and a year of actual teaching as a fifth year program tagged on to the end of the standard four years. Elementary and secondary teachers should be required to take all of the math courses required of a business major ... and math teachers at the secondary level shouldn't even be allowed into the classroom without the same course required of a math major. The same goes for the sciences ... because if we continue to do what we are currently doing kids of the communities non-elites are going to continue to be poorly educated ... and candidates for drop out.
To continue to have math and science adverse teachers in math and science is criminal. Even I, a librarian with teaching fields in history and the language arts, am much better prepared to teach math at the elementary level than almost all of our teachers at that level ... and THAT IS SAD!
Another thing we need to do is to weed out those who are coaches first and teachers second. As a former coach I am not anti-athletics ... but I do think that athletics is a fringe and not the be all and end all of education. I know of some mighty fine teachers who coach, but there seem to be way too many coaches who spend time in the classroom not because they want to teach but because that is what they have to do in order to coach.
And yes, I have been working in education since 1971, and I have more energy and do more things with kids than most of our teachers. I am disgusted with the people in my chosen profession for their lack of knowledge. I will say that if they had been well taught, maybe they could teach well.
Bitter. No. Angry at the inability to provide real learning? Yes. Guilty as charged.
Alarmingly I have to say that as a mature student going through a career change process (communications and internet tech) to becoming a teacher has been thoroughly disappointing.
I have been the student of many disinterested and disillusioned college professors who, even when challenged by my dissent, have deferred to the "dumb it down strategies" rather than teach. The modelling of teaching I have seen here in Higher Education (University) is shamefully inadequate, the teacher preparation program I am in is woefully depleted of any "real" preparation, using syllabi that has been tirelessly used year after year that does nothing to prepare me for the real world.
I received all my education upto the age of 25 outside of the US and faced with the preposterous idea that my "qualifications" were not acceptable to the CCTC, not to be beaten, I went back to college in the CSU system as a freshman to earn a teaching degree here in the USA. I was a 4.0 GPA student, graduating with full honors and am in the throws of completing the California Credential program. What have I learned in this past 5 years?
I can tell you that I learned to jump through hoops, I learned that education is more to do with money than anything else, I learned that bureaucracy held more value than competency, I had it confirmed to me why America's education system is falling behind the rest of the world. I beg of you (the program makers) to rectify the failures of your program, to challenge your State Officials on the efficacy of the bloated programs of "nothingness" and do more to prepare teachers for the realities they face. Just how many lesson plans do you want me to write?
I am now teaching. As for my students I think they can be thankful that I have seen the world. That I have competed in different educational systems and proved beyond doubt my competency. They are guaranteed my passion and wealth of subject matter competency. They can be assured that I have filled the gaps that the system has failed to do in my preperation. I have "subbed" for 200 hours, I have consulted and spent time with veteran teachers, and I have made it my personal goal to be prepared as I can be.
All this due in part because I had quality teachers as I grew up who instilled in me the value of education and molded me into a lifelong learner.
NCLB or any other initiative you want to dream up is worthless until you get quality teachers in the classroom. I have witnessed new teachers in our classrooms who don't know the difference between their and there. Teachers who cannot spell the very words they are tasked to teach. In some extreme cases the kids are teaching the teachers.
It is time to take up the challenge of change - for no other reason that the kids we will teach deserve no less than comptent and effective classroom teachers. The credential program that I have experienced is doing very little to achieve this end. Doesn't that make you feel ashamed - it does me!
Thirtyeight years ago, when I did my student teaching, I was very well versed in the academics of my field. I too had very well grounded professors for field experience in teaching. The only area I needed work in was budgetary in nature. No one ever discussed the practical development of ordering supplies etc. for the classroom. Fortunately, I had great mentors. Older, more experienced teachers never let me down. I listened,learned, and eventually shared my expertise with others.