How’s this for a rigorous assessment? A 45 minute group presentation which can include leading your audience in a class discussion. How’s this for in-depth research? Use 2 internet sources and 2 journals.
Now THAT’S troubling!
So goes the the recent The New York Times’ description of teacher prep activities.
Rest assured we’ll continue to hear more about this controversy. ( See more here and here.) Last week, new teacherblogger Ms. Smlph did her part to shine the unforgiving light of reality on the online courses she’d recently completed for liscensing purposes.
Look, the whole process of preparing teachers is screwed up. We drop inexperienced teachers into a classroom and ask them to do the same things 20 year veterans are expected to do. We offer them help, SOME of which is effective, but coaches and mentors and buddies are not enough to guide new practioners through the complexities of teaching for high student achievement. Furthermore, many new teachers have accepted all the responsibilities of teaching even as they haven’t yet finished all the required course work.
What we need is a program of extensive, focused internships whereby new teachers spend a year in partnership with master teachers.
I can hear the collective murmur: Keep dreaming!
At Virginia’s George Mason University, such an internship program exists.
Graduate students seeking ED/LD certification at GMU can apply for the opportunity to work in a Fairfax County classroom for emotionally disabled students. The county hires them as instructional assistants, and over the course of the year, they learn from the daily modeling and opportunities for practice. By mid-year, interns are planning and implementing lessons --with the guidance and support of their cooperating teacher. They implement behavior management plans, help create individual behavior plans, assist in the IEP process, practice parent and collegial interaction. They come to learn the ins and outs of curriculum, planning, lesson delivery, and effective assessment. They do it all with increasing responsibility over time. They have room to make mistakes ( that’s part of learning after all), but it’s always with the best interests of the students in mind. After all, the stakes are too high. Both for the interns, our future teachers, and for the students.