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teacher preparation ’ Category
Rachel Fortgang is a former student of Shawn’s, and a current student teacher.
Harvard University professor Jal Mehta recently penned an editorial for the New York Times in which he argues, essentially, “American education is a failed profession.” His contention rests on the falsity of most reform propositions, that whether we are asked to take sides in the Michelle Rhee vs. Diane Ravitch debate, or whether we follow Waiting for Superman into a charter vs. public contest, we are operating in a place that will not lead to long-term, effective solutions. Interestingly, Mehta reasons that the major solution rests in the professionalization of the teaching profession, something that has been promulgated in books like Andy Hargreaves and Michael Fullan’s Professional Capital but has remained an elusive position for teacher leadership and reform advocates alike.
Rachel, who is finishing up her student teaching, has noticed the relatively strange position of teachers since she decided to join their ranks. Both highly educated and a veteran of programs like the Harlem Children’s Zone in New York, Rachel is one of those that the profession should be trying to attract. Yet, her initial foray has introduced a distinct conundrum. She notes:
“It’s been strange telling my friends, most of whom at this point are finishing up law school, med school, or writing for prestigious news outlets, that I am going to be a teacher. There is, I think, an unspoken disappointment that this is what I ‘have come to,’ that if I cannot be a famous writer, I will resort to standing in front of a classroom intoning the difference between a metaphor and a simile for a group of adolescents who may not care less, year after year, for the rest of my life. What I’ve been coming up against, as I just dip my toe into this profession, is the largely unspoken reality about American society’s perception of the amount of skill, or to put it more bluntly, the intelligence, that is required to be an effective teacher.”
Part of Rachel’s issue is the fact that the teaching profession occupies a strange zone within the range of professions. In Shawn’s Issues and Ethics in Education class, he often muses about “what collar” a teacher wears. Rooms are often divided between those who argue blue and those who argue white, although the final denouement usually finds the class realizing that it is neither. The teaching profession straddles a line between these two worlds, and as long as it does so, it will perpetually face the labor strife that accompanies working class positions while seeking the protections normally associated with other career fields. Mehta suggests that teachers have to work harder to have teaching be seen as a “profession on par with fields like law and medicine.” (more…)
Dr. Judith A. Ramaley is President Emerita and Distinguished Professor of Public Service at Portland State University in the Mark O. Hatfield School of Government and President Emerita of Winona State University in Minnesota and The University of Vermont. Dr. Ramaley holds an appointment as a Senior Scholar with the Association of American Colleges and Universities. She is also a member of the board of Second Nature, an organization committed is to create a healthy, just, and sustainable society through the transformation of higher education and Oregon Campus Compact. She has worked with preK-12/higher education collaborations for many years.
Read Dr. Ramaley’s paper in its entirety.
In brief, not yet, but read on. A flurry of articles and books in the 1970s and 1980s explored concepts of professionalism. Educators have followed a path similar to other fields but K-12 teaching is still not seen as a true profession by many. There are several reasons for this, including how education itself has developed over the last century, where teachers receive their education (largely in less prestigious institutions) and who enters the field (mostly women).
Prior to the mid-nineteenth century, almost anyone could be a teacher as long as he or she had completed a level of education slightly above that of their pupils. The emergence of a formal school system throughout the 19th century carried with it both a demand for more and better trained teachers. The pathway to teaching branched in two main directions—preparation at a research university or at a regional comprehensive institution. The prestige enjoyed by research universities made it attractive to prospective practitioners of all sorts. However, research universities focused more on theory than on practice. Although these institutions welcomed the steady stream of tuition-paying students seeking to become teachers, they did not, as a rule, prepare highly qualified teachers who could both master the content of their chosen area of emphasis and practice the skills to help students succeed in school. (more…)
A few months back I met with a Sherwood High School teacher who told me that she and her colleagues were unable to get students to apply for a scholarship for college-bound students interested in becoming teachers. A week later I relayed this story to a group of educators and a school board member exclaimed, “Oh, that happened to us. We offered a scholarship for teachers-to-be and no one applied!”
I was taken aback. I enjoy teaching so much, I guess I had assumed up until then that others would see what I see and find the job appealing. Granted, it is not an easy job–I put in relatively long hours (On average, 55 per week), and the work can be taxing, mentally, emotionally, even physically. (more…)
In the summer of 2012, Kaitlyn Delaney interned at Chalkboard Project between her junior and senior year at a Florida State University teacher preparation program. After Kaitlyn graduates this year, she will be teaching either elementary or special education in the Greater Boston area through Teach For America. She plans to teach past her two Teach For America years.
During my summer interning at Chalkboard Project, I spent time researching Teach For America. I knew that I had a campus recruiting job waiting for me back at Florida State University, where I would be completing the final year of my undergraduate career, but I was still unsure of whether or not I would be applying for the corps.
I was still unsure because a lot of the criticisms resonated with me. Here I was, spending two years in a teacher preparation program, but in my first two years of teaching, I would be working alongside college graduates who could have majored in biology or political science. How could we be held accountable to the same standards? I also worried about the “burn-out” rate I had heard about from a few vocal opponents of the program. These opponents stated that the five-week training did not adequately prepare corps members for the teaching profession, especially for the schools that TFA corps members are placed in. I was not worried about burning out, but I worried about any fellow corps members’ struggle. I did not want to see my peers consider themselves failures if they did not succeed in their classrooms right away. I wanted to be part of a program that inspires people to stay in the profession. (more…)
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…)
Education reform is well-meaning but does not always further teachers’ ability to teach. I would like to put forth a shopping list of teacher needs. Our primary need is to add back our lost funding, because our students are slipping through the cracks as programs are cut, and class sizes burst at the seams. Oregon teachers need to work in schools where the focus is not on cutting resources.
Secondarily, we need:
- Restore lost teaching days, and give us a longer school year. It’ll be interesting to see the results of Chicago’s experiment with a longer school year, but I bet more hours in school will mean greater learning gains.
- Limit the amount of time that we have to do administrative work like data entry. In Japan, teachers teach longer hours and have assistants who grade and do production work. We used to have instructional assistants that would handle some of this, but cuts to personnel and increased demands at the top for accountability through data collection has cut into our time to plan quality instruction. (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…)
On Wednesday, December 12th, we hosted a webinar on the topic of teacher preparation in Oregon. We heard from both higher ed and K-12 professionals about the current state of teacher preparation, what needs to change, and what a few Oregon school districts are doing to better prepare teachers for K-12 classrooms.
Kevin Carr, Professor of Science Education at Pacific University
Karen Pugsley, Principal at Green School, Newberg High in Newberg School District
Watch or download a recording of the webinar here.
In the future, what topic would you like to learn more about?
Looking to keep you informed and your questions answered, we want to know what you think our next webinar topic should be. Post your ideas in the comments section or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org, and stay tuned for information about our next webinar!
Teachers know. They know who the best teachers are. As a teacher I watch an interesting phenomenon every spring. All of my teacher friends scramble to make sure their own children are placed in classes with the best teachers for the next year. They make the rounds to counselors’ and principals’ offices double-checking their child’s schedule. Ask any teacher, and they can tell you who the quality teachers are. It is common teacher talk. Recently, an elementary teacher in my district left the classroom for another educational position. As a teacher told me about the move, she said, “A lot of parents are going to be upset that she is no longer teaching. She is a dynamite teacher.” All students need the assurance they are going have a dynamite quality teacher next year.
Why is it important to have a dynamite teacher in every classroom?
In my last blog, I wrote about the “magic formula” for success with struggling learners and high achieving students alike. The largest component in that formula is to have a quality teacher in the classroom. Robert Marzano (2003) analyzed considerable research on what works in classrooms. All the research he studied concluded that the impact of the classroom teacher is far greater than any other factor in the child’s learning and achievement. The research is astounding. If a child begins school as average in math achievement—at the 50th percentile—and she has an average teacher for two years, she will remain at the 50th percentile. If she is in a classroom in a less effective school, and she also has a low-quality teacher, she actually drops to the 3rd percentile in math achievement. On the other hand, even if she is in a less effective school, but she has a high-quality teacher, two years later she leaves class in the 63rd percentile. She makes a 13 percent gain just by having a highly effective teacher. Quality teachers exert more influence on student learning than both socio economic status and family background. (more…)
Dr. Hilda Rosselli was recently appointed by Governor Kitzhaber to serve as Oregon Deputy Director of Career and College Readiness for the Oregon Education Investment Board where she is working with Dr. Rudy Crew to address systems that maximize synergy within the state’s new PK-20 system to achieve Oregon’s Goal of an educated citizenry (40/40/20).
I am delighted to help launch this important statewide initiative today on behalf of Oregon’s Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Rudy Crew, who views this work as pivotal in the overall vision of closing the achievement gap. His message since arriving in August has been consistent:
In order to transform Oregon’s system into the world class leader in education necessary to reach the 40-40-20 Goal, the state must prioritize the recruitment, advancement and support of a diverse corps of professional educators.” (more…)