Preparation routes: Teachers leading the way

What better way to celebrate Teacher Appreciation Day than by sharing and discussing the ideas and experiences of teacher leaders? Today, CTQ released a report on teacher education, written by a team of 17 teachers with diverse preparation experiences.

What better way to celebrate Teacher Appreciation Day than by sharing and discussing the ideas and experiences of teacher leaders? Today, CTQ released a report on teacher education, written by a team of 17 teachers with diverse preparation experiences. The report, TEACHING 2030: Leveraging Teacher Preparation 2.0, includes reflections on the current realities of teacher education, as well as recommendations for the future. The below post is adapated from my foreword to the report.

Debates continue to rage among analysts and researchers over whether university-based education schools should prepare teachers and how much training is needed before a new recruit teaches independently. Media outlets often portray teacher education as irrelevant at best. I am certain there is some truth that some education schools are guilty of emphasizing how children learn to read at the expense of making sure they know the mechanics of reading. But the critique of education schools often goes beyond the evidence—as well as beyond the pale. For example, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof recently made the claim that there are no special skills acquired in teacher training courses, only “snake-charming” ones. And there are “inside-the-Beltway” think tanks—using questionable research methods—that seem to make a decent living bashing education schools.

We know that there is often more variation within “traditional” and “alternative” approaches to teacher education than between them. But as described in TEACHING 2030: Leveraging Teacher Preparation 2.0, written by some of the nation’s best teachers, serious clinical preparation matters for early successes of new recruits. None of the top-performing nations in the world, such as Finland or Singapore, tolerates shortcuts into teaching. At the same time, our universities must continue to find innovative ways to ready nontraditional recruits for the rigors of teaching. Preservice teachers need customized preparation for the 21st-century pedagogical skills demanded by not just the Common Core State Standards, but the global economy in which students must participate.

Too much of today’s criticism of teacher education is driven by politics, not substance, and focuses on outdated issues instead of ones unique to the demands of 21st-century teaching and learning. Teacher preparation of today and tomorrow needs to equip new recruits to teach highly mobile students, develop their own assessments, improve data systems, engage parents and policymakers, and lead the transition of many of our high-needs schools into 24/7 community hubs.

I encourage you to dive into this report, written by educators who work with students every day. Their insights on “Teacher Prep 2.0” provide a much-needed antidote to the current debate, and their thinking on “Teacher Prep 3.0”—led by Emily Vickery—should lead the next generation of discussions and action around teacher-education reform. TEACHING 2030: Leveraging Teacher Preparation 2.0, penned by 17 classroom experts, transcends the current divide and sets a path for ensuring that every teacher is ready to teach what students need to know, now and in the future.

I encourage you to read and engage with the teachers’ ideas and recommendations—then tell us what you think in the Collaboratory.