Wednesday, March 24, 2010

We need teaching schools to create excellent teachers...

flickr CC image via Enokson

I believe firmly that the vast majority of teachers are professional people doing a professional job. We are members of a world-wide cohort of professionals who have been drawn toward the most noble of crafts. Despite this, I remain perplexed why we don't in some instances, act in the same manner that defines other professions and vocations. Pre-service teacher preparation and training is one of these instances.

While other professions and trades evidently see the value of pairing their new members with established, expert leaders within their fields, we have not taken full advantage of the opportunity. We do implement mentorship programs for new teachers, and pre-service teachers participate in student-teacher experiences before finishing their undergraduate training, but if these practices are good, why not extend them?

Lawyers article, doctors intern and tradesmen apprentice, but teachers typically don't participate in this form of on-the-job training to the same degree.Why don't we apprentice new teachers? There are teaching hospitals; why not establish "teaching schools?" I see a tremendous upside potential to this concept.

Pairing master teachers with teachers new to the profession seems to me such a simple and logical plan that perhaps the powers that be consider it to be too simple to be effective. I've written on this blog about Occam's Razor; the Law of Succinctness... maybe the simple plan is just what our profession needs to take teacher preparation to the next, more credible level. I envision teaching schools as those that would be partnered with post-secondary institutions making it easy to conduct academic research into best practices, pedagogy, technology, curriculum, etc., while providing a living lab in the school to test the theories through action-research projects and supervised teaching. I can't think of a better way to overlap the theory pre-service teachers are exposed to within their university training experience and the visceral experiences they would have while immersed within the functional school environment.

Let's take the step in education to become more responsible for our newest teacher's levels of effectiveness and success early in their career by supporting them to a higher degree from within the profession. Let's do this by putting pre-service teachers into our schools where they can witness first-hand and learn from the remarkable work that excellent teachers do every day.

We need teaching schools.
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