Could newest teaching strategy be made in Japan?

11 Jan

Amy Hetzner and Becky Vevea of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel have written the article, How Best to Educate Future Teachers which is part of a series

Alverno College, the small women’s college on Milwaukee’s south side, has been widely cited as a national model for training teachers, thanks to its combination of clinical and classroom experience and use of video and other tools to evaluate whether graduates are meeting the standards for what makes a good teacher….

Key elements of an excellent teacher education program:

  • Strong content knowledge, teaching skills. Future teachers gain a solid grounding in the content to be taught as well as how to teach it.

  • Flexible methods. Emphasis is placed on teaching diverse learners – knowing how to differentiate teaching to reach a broad range of students.

  • Fieldwork. Coursework clearly is connected to fieldwork. The clinical experience, like in medical school, consists of intensive student-teaching, preferably for a semester or entire year, under the supervision of an experienced mentor.

  • Professional mentors. Mentors observe future teachers in the classroom – sometimes videotaping for later analysis – and work with them on everything from lesson-planning and creating assignments to monitoring student progress and grading.

  • Designated “learning schools.” Mentors and school sites for student-teaching are well-chosen. There are close relationships and a sense of joint responsibility among the school sites at which future teachers train, the local district and the teacher-education program.

  • Escalating teaching responsibilities. Future teachers gradually take over a full classroom, first teaching short segments on a single topic with a small group of students, then co-teaching with the mentor before assuming full responsibility for a class.

  • Feedback. Feedback from multiple sources (mentors, professors, peers) is routine.

  • Selective admission standards. Admission to the program is selective; not everyone has the necessary skills or demeanor to be an effective teacher.

Sources: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education; faculty at Columbia University Teachers College, Stanford and Harvard Universities.

Compiled by Justin Snider of The Hechinger Report

These are the elements that have made the graduates of one education school successful.

Linda Lutton has written the article, Japanese strategy for improving teachers is catching on in Chicago for the Hechinger Report:

In the sunlit library at Jorge Prieto Elementary on Chicago’s’ northwest side, an experiment is under way.

A provisional classroom has been set up. A white board sits at the front of the room, and 20 eighth-graders are seated at library tables. Math teacher Michael Hock is giving a lesson about the distributive property.

Scattered throughout the room are some 30 other teachers. They aren’t wearing lab coats—but they might as well be. They clutch clipboards and carefully monitor kids’ reactions to the teacher’s explanations, peering over students’ shoulders as they write answers.

What is the area of the garden?” Hock asks students as he points to an illustration on the white board. “Nestor, I haven’t heard from you today.”

Listen to the audio story

Nestor answers the question, and the 30 adults, including visiting teachers from Japan, scribble notes.

The exercise is called “lesson study.” It’s a professional development strategy used extensively in Japan that essentially dissects a teacher’s lesson and the way it’s delivered.

Here’s how it works: teachers come up with a detailed lesson plan and explain ahead of time to colleagues the goals of the lesson. Then, one teacher tries the lesson out on a group of students, while dozens of other teachers watch what happens.

Finally, the observers offer feedback and ideas for improvement.“[We’ve been] doing lesson study more than 100 years in Japan,” says Toshiakira Fujii, a premier professor of math education in Japan who was among those teachers observing at Prieto. “But lesson study in the United States is quite new.”

Fujii says Japanese teachers see lesson study as a proving ground, a way to shine in front of their colleagues.

You can see [it] everywhere in Japan,” says Fujii. “In Tokyo in the case it’s Wednesday. Wednesday [we] usually finish at lunch time. Then one class stays, and the other classes dismiss. And then every teacher comes to that one class and observes. Even the school nurse and school counselor also join to watch the lesson—that’s our traditional way.”

There’s been lots of talk about how Chicago should evaluate teachers. Lesson study is being billed as a way to help teachers improve.

The strategy is one both teachers unions and school districts say they like. The head of instruction in Chicago Public Schools says she’s a fan of lesson study.  The Chicago Teachers Union helped organize the lesson study at Prieto—and convenes other sessions on holidays like Pulaski Day, when students and teachers volunteer to participate. http://hechingerreport.org/content/japanese-strategy-for-improving-teachers-is-catching-on-in-chicago_7350/

See, ‘Lesson Study,” Japanese Strategy For Improving Teachers, Catching On In U.S.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/10/lesson-study-japanese-str_n_1197229.html

Teachers also have some thoughts about effective teaching. Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post has a guest column written by teacher Larry Ferlazzo. In Teachers: What We Need to Do to Fix the Schools Ferlazzo writes:

Evaluating Students and Teachers Using Fair, Valid and Reliable Measures
We need to reduce our dependence on standardized testing as the primary method of assessing students and teachers. Using multiple measures, including portfolios of student work, allows us to evaluate students based on work they have constructed themselves, as opposed to their skill in selecting the one right answer from a list of possibilities on a multiple choice test….

Enhancing Collaboration Between Teachers
Making time for peer learning is a critical step toward improving instruction and—as studies have shown—reducing teacher turnover. Providing strong administrative support for weekly meetings and engaging teachers in discussions about the kind of professional development we want and need is necessary to help move us beyond our “egg crate” model that limits professional collaboration. …

Shared Leadership and Accountability in Schools
Schools that include substantial teacher input across many levels of school decision-making—or that are actually run by lead teachers rather than principals—are being launched in Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles and other urban districts nationwide. Teacher-led learning organizations may not be a good fit for every school system, but the emerging models suggest some best practices that translate well to nearly any school environment….

Building Bridges Between Schools and Communities
We understand and embrace the idea that teachers are the most powerful
in-school predictor of student achievement. But there are many factors outside of the traditional scope of schools’ work with children that must be addressed—health care, job training, affordable housing, etc.—that have an enormous impact on student achievement….

Rather, he writes, schools are actually complex systems filled with constantly moving parts that require constant adjustments. He questions the wisdom of “grafting” complicated procedures onto complex organizations.

Really, it comes down to each population of kids should have solutions tailored for their needs. There really should not be a one size approach to education.

Kids know good teaching when they see it. Donna Gordon Blankinship of AP reports in the Seattle Times article, How Do You Find An Effective Teacher? Ask A Kid

Adults may be a little surprised by some of the preliminary findings of new research on what makes a great teacher.

How do you find the most effective teachers? Ask your kids. That’s one of four main conclusions of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and its research partners after the first year of its Measures of Effective Teaching Project.

Preliminary results of the study were posted online Friday; a more complete report is expected in April, according to the foundation….

The first four conclusions of the study are as follows:

-The average student knows effective teaching when he or she experiences it.

-In every grade and every subject, a teacher’s past success in raising student achievement on state tests is one of the strongest predictors of his or her ability to do so again.

-The teachers with the highest value-added scores on state tests, which show improvement by individual students during the time they were in their classroom, are also the teachers who do the best job helping their students understand math concepts or demonstrate reading comprehension through writing.

-Valid feedback does not need to come from test scores alone. Other data can give teachers the information they need to improve, including student opinions of how organized and effective a teacher is….

See, Students Know Good Teaching When They Get It, Survey Finds

Bottom line, education is a partnership between the student, parent(s) or guardian(s), teacher(s), and school. All parts of the partnership must be involved. Students must arrive at school ready to learn. Parents must provide an environment which supports education and education achievement. Teachers must have strong subject matter knowledge and pedagogic skills. Schools must provide safe environments and discipline. Communities are also part of a successful school system and outcome for community children. Education is a partnership.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

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