As a new blogger, I’ve made it my mission to read a lot of the educational blogging sites out there. I just can’t help noticing that, among other issues, there are lots of questions in the edusphere about the quality, the very necessity of our country’s ed programs. Vocal, passionate critics see the present and future of our education system mired in disarray because of the inadequacies of embedded, self-serving teacher-training institutions.
I have a hard time hearing these kinds of complaints because our local university ed program appears so responsive. There, the special ed department recognizes the challenges new emotional disabilities teachers face, and has supplemented their program with a year long internship (instead of the paltry student teaching experience so common in these parts). I got involved 7 years ago and have loved mentoring these preservice teachers.
Every year, I get the skinny on the ed program from the students themselves, most of whom move through the program with a eye toward the finish line and little else. It’s the actual classroom experience that they say prepares them for the next year when they have to be in charge of their own classroom.
I give credit to the university for including this internship program. Still, without it, according to my interns, their overall preparation would be fairly inadequate; now that I think about it, the interns over the years have all complained that they are not learning how to actually teach in their classes. It’s the hands-on, in the trenches experience that provides that.
And I teach them what and how I have learned in my county’s staff development courses. Fifteen years ago it was whole language (hmmmm) , but in the last ten years, especially through the county’s special ed department, we are learning more scripted, sequential, phonics based approaches. That’s the approach that works most often with my students.
Tomorrow, my intern and I start another week together. She’s taking more and more responsibility for the behavior and instructional program, and I have to continue to step back. (That’s harder for me than you know.) Still, it’s the university I have to thank for this wonderful collaborative experience. They are definitely not as bad as their critics claim!