Teacher recruits need a very different kind of preparation to teach the diverse, tech-savvy learners of today and to ready those learners for the 21st-century global marketplace. To make this happen, we must move far beyond reform rhetoric — and we must do so quickly.
Below is a blog post I wrote as part of an online discussion for Learning Matters, a nonprofit media production company that has produced many education-focused reports and documentaries for PBS. Along with several experts in the education field, I was asked to write about teacher quality and teacher training. I encourage you to read the other participants’ responses and leave comments on the full Learning Matters discussion — it’s absolutely worth the read.
Recently, I collaborated with twelve expert teachers to write TEACHING 2030: What We Must Do For Our Students and Our Public Schools … Now and in the Future. We argue that universities’ teacher education programs — and highly-touted alternative certification programs like Teach for America — perpetuate out-of-date models of teaching and learning.
Teacher recruits need a very different kind of preparation to teach the diverse, tech-savvy learners of today and to ready those learners for the 21st-century global marketplace. To make this happen, we must move far beyond reform rhetoric — and we must do so quickly. Here are six big strategies that can help teacher preparation programs break the mold:
- Ensure that recruits are being prepared for the roles that are most needed in area schools: School districts should develop “labor market” reports, allowing universities to carefully consider how many recruits should be prepared and for what.
- Jettison traditional three-hour course credits in favor of performance-based pedagogical modules and assessments: This nimble, practical approach will help recruits to develop specific teaching skills and will better identify who is ready to teach, when, and under what conditions.
- Split the time: Work with school districts to create hybrid roles for the most effective teachers to spend half their time teaching and half their time as lead teacher educators.
- Understand the community: Require recruits to complete a substantial internship in a community-based organization, developing deep knowledge of how and where students and their families live.
- Embrace online: Engage recruits in a virtual network of teachers, preparing them to teach effectively online and to collaborate virtually with teaching colleagues.
- Emergent Tech: Work with school districts to expose recruits to live and digitally recorded “lesson studies,” in which teams of candidates learn to critique teaching and assess student learning using emerging technologies.