Sunday, August 14, 2016

Addressing America's Teacher Deficit

Teacher Preparation, Luis ValentinoIn 1904, John Dewey wrote about teacher preparation, and the role it should play in preparing teachers for the profession.  For Dewey, teacher preparation should focus primarily on preparing teachers to be learners, while they develop their capacity, and less emphasis on skills development that produces short-term gains (i.e., classroom management, lesson planning, etc.).

Teacher preparation programs that fulfill this vision is a tall order, considering the growing teacher shortage across the country.  The demand on school districts to find and hire new teachers places teacher preparation programs in the position of having to “boot-camp” candidates, then send them off to work in the most challenging school environment in the country.  These programs help teachers to survive their first several months of school, but will not necessarily help them to develop the necessary mindset for long-term success.

A more comprehensive model with long-term support can produce strong beginning teachers who can not only take on the challenges of teaching, but who can develop a growth mindset as a professional, a leader, and change agent.

But are such programs sustainable? Well, there are number of institutions giving it their best, looking at creating more comprehensive programs, with greater support, guidance, and accountability.  This approach will not only build stronger teachers, but will help to keep them in the profession.

In a recent article, Harvard's New Approach to America's Teacher Deficit:  The school hopes reshaping how young people enter classrooms will keep them there longer,  reporter Alex Zimmerman describes Harvard's efforts at developing teacher preparation programs that more effectively support teachers over time.

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