Is classroom practice the missing ingredient in teacher training?

4 Oct

Moi wrote in Teacher credentials: ‘Teacher Performance Assessment’:

Because teacher training programs will be evaluated by the National Council on Teacher Quality, there is interest in examining how teachers are prepared. See, Building Better Teachers http://www.nctq.org/p/edschools/home.jsp 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 Alverno College successful. https://drwilda.com/2012/07/31/teacher-credentials-teacher-performance-assessment/

Jay Mathews has written an interesting Washington Post article, Why teacher training fails our teachers:

American public elementary and secondary schools spend about $20 billion a year on what is called professional development — helping teachers do their jobs better. Many teachers will tell you much of that is a waste of time and money.

Now, three former teachers involved in training have discovered an important reason. Teachers are rarely given time and opportunity to practice what they have learned.

Practice Perfect: 42 Rules for Getting Better at Getting Better,” is the new book by Doug Lemov, Erica Woolway and Katie Yezzi exposing this flaw in teacher training and the way most of us learn any complex skill. Professional athletes know the value of repeating moves again and again before the game starts. Michael Jordan was famous for how much time he spent practicing in the gym, even after he became a superstar…

For teachers, the authors of “Practice Perfect” say, pre-game repetition is crucial. “If a teacher’s performance during a given class is less than what she wanted, she cannot get it back,” they say. “She cannot as, say, a lawyer working on a contract might do, stop in the middle of her work and call someone to ask for advice. She can’t give it her best shot and then, as we are doing as we write this book, go back and tinker and revise and have the luxury of being held accountable for a final product that reflects actions taken and reconsidered over an extended period….”

They learned this only recently after analyzing the results of a study of great teachers in high-poverty public schools, reported in Lemov’s previous best-selling book, “Teach Like a Champion.” The teachers with the best results “were often the most likely to focus on small and seemingly mundane aspects of their daily work.” The authors liken this to legendary basketball coach John Wooden, who went so far as to teach players how to put their socks on correctly. But the insight did not immediately illumine the importance of practice….

The authors realized that their trainees hadn’t practiced. It was the equivalent of trying to learn a new backhand in the middle of a match at center court Wimbledon.

They added repetitive exercises to their training workshops. Teachers played students so the situation would resemble a real classroom. Teachers still had trouble getting it right. The real world situation was too distracting, The authors dialed down the student disruption so their trainees had a chance to do the technique correctly several times. Once it became automatic, they could handle unpredictable moments….

In the future, schools will still often spend big money on training teachers in ineffective ways. Learning to practice, this book vividly illustrates, takes time and effort, trial and error. It won’t happen tomorrow. But even a small movement in the direction of more practice will reap benefits, in teaching and many other things we do. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/class-struggle/post/why-teacher-training-fails-our-teachers/2012/10/03/f88d470a-0c56-11e2-bb5e-492c0d30bff6_blog.html

Every child has a right to a good basic education. In order to ensure that every child has a good basic education, there must be a quality teacher in every classroom.

Resources:

National Council on Teacher Quality

How I was evaluated as a first-year teacher – 10/04/2012

A first year teacher, ripe for feedback and improvement, gets none.

What’s the Latest on Teacher Evaluation? – 10/02/2012

We’ve got the skinny on what states are doing to evaluate their teachers and award them tenure. Read more

2011 State Teacher Policy Yearbook

January 2012

State of the States: Trends and Early Lessons on Teacher Evaluation and Effectiveness Policies

October 2011

State of the States 2012: Teacher Effectiveness Policies

October 2012

Center for Teaching Quality http://www.teachingquality.org/

The National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality http://www.tqsource.org/

Related:

Linda Darling-Hammond on teacher evaluation https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/05/09/linda-darling-hammond-on-teacher-evaluation/

Report: Measuring teacher effectiveness https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/06/13/report-measuring-teacher-effectiveness/

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