Randy Hitz is the Dean of the Graduate School of Education at Portland State University.
One of the great challenges in our field is how to address the many myths that exist about schools and the teaching profession. I still hear it frequently stated that a physician from the 19th century would be totally lost in an operating room today, but a teacher from the same century would be quite at home in today’s classrooms. That is, of course, far from the truth. Similarly there are many myths about teacher preparation that exist in the general public and to some extent even within the profession itself. In my next couple of blog posts I will attempt to address some of the major myths I deal with on a regular basis. I will be speaking primarily from a Portland State University perspective but most of my comments apply broadly to many, if not most, teacher preparation programs in Oregon. I welcome your comments and your suggestions for other myths or questions I should address.
Myth: Most teachers are prepared at the baccalaureate level.
That may still be true in general across the nation, but it is certainly not true in Oregon. Over 85% of the teachers we prepare in this state are prepared at the Masters level. This is perhaps the most prevalent myth among the general public in Oregon. Most people outside the profession are surprised when I tell them this and that PSU teacher candidates are prepared at the Masters level. The fact that most teachers in Oregon are prepared at the Masters level challenges many of the other myths as you will see later. (more…)
Educators throughout the nation and state are strengthening the profession by recruiting a more diverse and talented pool of candidates, improving preparation, and improving ongoing support for teaching and learning. We seek a more seamless, efficient and effective system. In this blog post I will specifically address two ways we are improving teacher preparation.
Portland State University and many other universities with high quality teacher preparation programs are making many changes in the clinical experience and two are of utmost importance. First, we are moving away from placing student teachers individually in random schools and classrooms to systematic and strategic “clustering” of four to eight student teachers in schools where they can gain an optimum clinical experience AND contribute to the success of the P12 students in the school. (more…)
When I did my student teaching I was told both by university professors and by my mentor teachers that once I had my own classroom, I could close my door and basically do whatever I wanted. At most, they said, my class might be observed by the principal a couple times each year. This was true for me, and it was true for my mentor teachers who started in the profession decades before me. Unfortunately, despite great improvements in education today, it is still too much the case that teachers are on their own to develop their skills and meet student needs.
I am more confident than ever that we can change this aspect of the professional teaching culture because we have the practical and research bases needed for real change. (more…)