What do we need to do better?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by swansong1, Sep 5, 2018.

  1. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Sep 5, 2018

    Every year, at about this time, we see posts from new teachers who are in over their heads and are ready to quit because the job is not what they expected.

    We have had discussions before about how well our colleges prepared us for the job.

    Which leads us to the next question...should new teacher preparation begin earlier...maybe in high school when students are beginning to think about careers? Or should there be some kind of aptitude test that prospective teachers can use to see if they are suited for the career?
     
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  3. tchr4vr

    tchr4vr Comrade

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    I don't necessarily think we need to start earlier--however, that might fit for some. I do think that there needs to be several things in place for new teachers:

    1) While in college, more time in more classrooms--different types of schools, classrooms, grades, subjects, what have you. And not just a day here or there--really in the trenches, even at the worst times of the year, so pre-career people truly see what its like. My student teaching was 6 months in a lottery school with Honors and AP kids--great experience, but in no way prepared me for what I would have for many years. Only now, 19 years later, do I have that type of class schedule.

    2) Once teachers get in the classroom, the first year, they should have a master teacher with them (maybe that's what instructional coaches should be)--kind of like an apprencticeship. The new teacher is the teacher of record, but the master teacher is there to monitor, model and provide support daily, not just when there's a free minute in the day.

    3) New teachers should not be given the lowest of the low or the worst kids in the building. Allow them to build one thing at a time. Work on content and designing lessons for the first year or so. Then move on to other things. New teachers should rotate different types of classes for the first five years or so, find their niche, see where they fit.

    4) New teachers should have one less class then others their first year. That free prep should be time to meet with other teachers, new or old, and network, decompress, plan--whatever they need.

    That first year is such trial by fire, and we need to support our new teachers so much more than we do. And also, when you do switch districts--if you have put in the time at another district, don't make a fifteen year veteran attend new teacher training. Yes, new-to-district training, but not new teacher training (I've had to do this several times, and it is such a time suck).

    Teaching is one of the only professions that doesn't really have a long-term training program. Doctors have to spend several years under the eye of another doctor before they are allowed to practice on their own. If you are an HVAC worker or a plumber, generally, you do not go on calls by yourself right away--you may have the skills and the certifications, but you are still under the eye of someone with more training. But we throw teachers to the wolves, sometimes literally.

    While stress is normal, crying at your job on a daily basis or having to go to therapy because of your job is not--and there are far too many teachers doing that. I spend my whole first six months crying in the car on the way home everyday. That is not right.
     
  4. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    Have future teachers in the classroom for their whole teaching program.

    Provide more incentives for teachers to work with student teachers. And, this!
    I was going to include just your third point, but really, I agree with all of your ideas!
     
  5. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Phenom

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    Aren’t there some archived posts for beginning teachers on here? However, I could be wrong. Maybe the moderators could attach it, so other posters can easily find it. I say this because it would help the new teachers to see all the kinds of resources available to them.

    Maybe we offer a few tips on how we made our workloads easier.

    For me, I made digital copies of all my files so I wouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel each year and was consistent with a small handful of classroom rules and procedures. That really set the stage for the year in terms of classroom management and just time management in general.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2018
  6. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    I have a friend who taught in Japan, and apparently this is the model used for teacher training there -- your first year is an apprenticeship in which you teach alongside a master teacher.
     
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  7. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    Louisiana has moved to a new model where teachers must spend an entire year in the classroom as a coteacher with a mentor teacher before graduating. It's a new program, so I have no way to know if it will be better or not, but I feel like it will!
     
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  8. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    There's so much to be gained from a model like this. Those teachers need to get paid though (not that anyone's arguing against that). In my opinion, one of the biggest obstacles to completing a teaching program is being required to do your student teaching for around 6 months, working full time and not receiving any pay.

    If student teachers could teach full time and get pay while working alongside another teacher (even if it was not a full salary, maybe a student teacher salary), everyone would benefit.
     
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  9. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    I think there is a big issue with the fact that low SES schools are often not in a position to accept student teachers or don't really let STs take over because they have to worry so much about their data. Understandably, if you're in a position where you're possibly going to be fired as an individual teacher or have the school taken over by the state/turned into a charter, I can see why you're not going to be eager to turn the reigns over to a ST for months. IDK if this is state wide or just something our HR department came up with, but in my district STs aren't allowed in any school that has a state rating below "performance." We're now a performance school, but individual teachers don't want to take on STs, because student data is a large chunk of our evaluations.

    My college program did an excellent job of providing us with tons of field experiences and a year long student teaching, but they wanted to make sure our student teaching was in a "good school" (i.e., middle or higher SES population). I don't know if that was the right decision. In my ST, literally the worst behaviors I saw were kids blurting out constantly or needing multiple reminders for directions. At my current school, violent tantrums, hitting/kicking/biting, screaming obscenities, and destroying property are a daily occurrence. I was fortunate to start out at a somewhat easier school (more rural) my first two years. I don't know that I would have been successful if I had started my career at my current school.

    If we want to make sure first year teachers are prepared, we need to make sure they're getting good field experiences and a long ST experience where they actually fully take over for a longer period of time, AND there needs to at least be an option for STs to be placed in the more difficult schools that first year teachers are more likely to end up in. I don't know how we solve the problem of making it worthwhile for veteran teachers in difficult schools to take on STs. I'd say a potential idea is to place STs only with the "best" veteran teachers and allow those teachers skip their evaluations the year they have a ST, but that's illegal in my state.
     
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  10. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    Perhaps an idea would be for districts or states to create "teaching schools" like they have "teaching hospitals". One school could have two teachers in every classroom - an experienced teacher, and a student teacher or new teacher.
     
  11. Always__Learning

    Always__Learning Comrade

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    I think spending more time in classrooms makes a ton of difference. In Canada we have what is called Concurrent Education - which means that in your 3 or 4 year undergraduate you can take education courses and do teaching placements every year. Then you enter your Education degree which is one or two years long and spend about 1/2 the year in classrooms. Over 4-6 years you get a good sense of what you are getting into and I've always said one of the best things about a Concurrent program is it gives you time to get out - if after 3/4 years you think 'this isn't for me' you can go ahead and apply to a Masters program and not go into teaching. If you choose to continue in year 5-6 you have a good idea of what you are signing up for. Teaching in year one is hard but I didn't feel unprepared.
     
  12. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    But then there is still the issue of addressing how the ST will completely take over and see what it's going to be like to be the only teacher in the room when they move on from this "teaching school." If you have a set up with the expectation of 2 teachers being in the room and both teachers teaching, the ST isn't getting any idea of what it's going to be like when they're truly out on their own and have to do all of that management, differentiating, small group teaching, etc. etc. all by themselves.
     
  13. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    No, I think that makes it sound like the problem is that the teachers aren't spending enough years preparing. That isn't the problem. The problem is they come into classrooms with no materials, parents who love good report cards more than learning, college debt to their eye balls, and in order to get everything done requires more hours than there are in a day. They don't know how to handle all of this and still succeed.

    I think the best thing that can happen is to sit down with mentor teachers that can help them. Let them see good teaching in action in a variety of ways from a variety of teachers. Let mentors show them how to make a difference and still have a life outside of teaching.

    It can be done, but they teacher wanna-bees need better help. Police and firefighters face real conflict and challenges in training. Teachers should prepare what to do with the hardest of challenges. Colleges are too "academic" and don't put teachers into real-life teaching challenge scenarios.
     
  14. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    I student taught and I did not get to take over my class. I co-taught which meant that I basically taught every other day. I had a good mentor teacher but I felt like I didn't get the full experience because of this and I always had my mentor teacher to fall back on for things like classroom management. I could always fall back on her being able to manage the class. She also told me exactly what to teach every day so I never felt like I was doing unit planning.

    I also never had to worry about all of the administrative things related to teaching like attendance, collecting forms, etc. that takes time, energy, and planning. I really wish that my school found me a placement where I could have been taken over as I think it would have been really helpful. Right now, I have 34 kids on my own and it is a lot compared to having two teachers with 20 kids before. The good thing is that I was able to observe a lot of my mentor teacher's strategies and use some of them in my teaching.

    I feel like the only reason I am doing ok for now is because I am only teaching one class three times a day, so I only have to plan one lesson a day and teach it 3 times. However, I am still working ALL day. I leave school at contract time but I spent my whole weekend planning and I basically work until I go to bed. My school provides no curriculum and I would have been lost without a Common Core Book that I have and an online free curriculum that I found.
     
  15. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Virtuoso

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    We had new teacher internships until this year. Funding was cut, so we don’t have them anymore.

    I had interns many times. They have their own classrooms. The mentor teacher observes the intern, and the intern observes the mentor. There are tasks that the intern completes over three cycles. They also get observations from administration and an intern supervisor. The mentor and intern are required to spend a set number of hours together in professional learning activities, which includes things specific to the needs of the intern. Interns are graduates with a probationary teaching certificate. They get the regular certificate upon completion of the internship.

    I preferred interns to student teachers because they have their own classes, and that lets me see their true strengths and weaknesses more clearly. I’ve had fantastic interns and some that weren’t so great. I’ve also had some who weren’t a good fit for the school, but have done okay.

    Our closest universities require observation hours starting in the very first classes. As they get closer to student teaching, they get more responsibilities. I didn’t like those as much. Some were almost more work than my students!
     
  16. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    Hmmm...
    Maybe a rotating schedule of two full time experienced teachers, three new? Then a new teacher could have someone with him/her at the start until they were gradually on their own with someone to ask questions as needed.

    *edit: typos fixed. Typing on cellphones is the worst.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2018
  17. rpan

    rpan Cohort

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    I think a more rigorous student teaching block is something that is required. The university courses are too focussed on theory and not enough practical experience. Teachers face students for most of their day, so the practical experience is so important and is the part that can quickly feel very overwhelming.
    Student teachers should be made to take the full load of their mentor teachers workload - planning, writing scope and sequence, lesson planning, writing and marking assessments, parent conferences, everything - with their mentors guidance and overseeing but with a gradual release of responsibility model. They could start with taking half a load and then building up to one full semester of the full load.
    It’s only then that student teachers will know the full extent of what their life could be and would be if they became teachers and if this life is truly for them.
    I did exactly that for my student teaching and whilst I was very busy in my first year, I was not too overwhelmed because I already knew what I was getting myself in for and I could cope. Sadly, the student teaching block is now getting shorter and shorter with the emphasis on observations rather than planning and teaching.
     
  18. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    I think in addition to high quality student teaching, having a mentor / mentors in your first couple years - both ones that are in the classroom, and ones that are solely devoted to that mentoring process, can be key. For new teachers, our district provides two years of mentorship - someone who is dedicated solely to mentoring a couple dozen new teachers (usually several within the same building), as well as providing several pull-out days in the first year and opportunities for more pull-out days in the second year for both trainings, meeting together, and visiting other classrooms to observe things that one might be struggling to find success with.

    While they can't be in the classroom all the time, I had visits at least once a week, sometimes more, and we were able to sit down and discuss pretty much anything, she gave me many tips and we worked together on planning things out, and they go through a whole practice observation cycle before the actual thing.

    Because honestly, I think even while student teaching, you can only learn so much, especially depending on your cooperating teacher: the fact that in the end, they are the one responsible (being paid!) and will still be around, and be assisting along the way, etc... - means that it isn't going to ever give a perfect experience. But those first 3-5 years are such a steep learning curve (hence why I put my masters off until my learning starts to peak), that having someone to support and help direct that learning you are having in the classroom is huge.
     
  19. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    I feel like my college did an okay job of preparing me to teach, if I had stayed in the area near my college. I did observations starting sophomore year, and I had to observe three different classrooms each semester, and I also had to lead an activity in each classroom (usually, that was a read-aloud of a book.) Then junior year, I was in two classrooms each semester for 6 hours a week, and had to teach a lesson in each classroom, in addition to helping with other classroom tasks (small groups, etc.) Senior year, we were in one classroom 6 hours a week, and took over for one unit of study during 1st semester, then had our typical student teaching second semester. They placed us in a variety of locations, grades, and demographics. My issue was that urban Florida Title I is very different from rural Louisiana Title I, so I was unprepared for the specific culture of the school for my first job.
     

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