The Bulletin Board | Educators for Excellence

Educators for Excellence | July 2019

Pop quiz: what’s the most important in-school factor to help students succeed?

A) A well-resourced classroom
B) Smaller class sizes
C) You

Answer: you

You are what matters most to a child in their classroom. 

A great teacher can help a struggling student catch up with their peers, work through childhood trauma, and ignite a lifelong passion for learning. With so much at stake, you’d think society would make sure teachers were ready to hit the ground running as soon as they began their careers.

Well, think again. 

Only 34% of teachers believe their preparation program adequately prepared them for the classroom.

In our talks with teachers, we hear about preparation programs that severely lack hands-on experience, neglect skills necessary for the modern classroom, and are taught by people who haven’t set foot in a K-12 classroom in years. 

Sound familiar? It should. Three-quarters of you, dear readers, said your programs did not prepare you for the classroom in last month’s poll.

Rachael Goeler, special education teacher in New York thinks so, too. In this month’s Chalk Talk, she says:

“Since I was a freshman in high school I had worked in special education with students ranging from two years old to end of life, all with a wide range of physical and mental disabilities. Now that I had my formal teacher training, I thought there was nothing I hadn’t seen before. I was wrong. While I felt more prepared to be around people with disabilities, love them for who they are, and work through behavior issues, I had not a clue how to set up and run a classroom.”

So what are people doing about it?

This year at E4E, teachers in New York and Connecticut identified a set of recommendations that encourage teacher preparation programs to prioritize clinical, in-class experiences for aspiring teachers and coursework aligned with current classroom demands to ensure that teachers are well-prepared to meet their students’ full range of needs. This includes developing teacher candidates’ core subject knowledge, culturally responsive pedagogy, non-punitive behavior management strategies, and the ability to use technology in the classroom.

And about a week ago, E4E classroom teachers and leaders from national educational organizations came together in Washington, D.C. to define a vision to improve teacher preparation and remove the obstacles from prep that prevent a diverse group of teachers from entering the classroom. 

But it will take more teachers than those in that room to make a change. Will you join them? Sign up to be the first to learn about the vision statement and the campaign to ensure our students benefit from a diverse and talented set of educators.

Teachers unions like the American Federation of Teachers have similar ideas. 

Check out the national union’s report on how to improve prep programs. They ask for:

  • Greater alignment and coherence between the teaching standards and assessments potential teachers must take;
  • A rigorous and universal assessment to enter the profession; and 
  • An oversight organization governed by teachers.

This, for starters, would go a long way to make sure teachers don’t collectively struggle on their first crucial year in the classroom, and all the years that follow.

But there are limitations to preparation programs. Prep programs can make sure kids have a great teacher leading their learning and they can give teachers the skills to grow their students and succeed in their careers. But they can’t create passion and love for hundreds of youngsters, a love that sustains itself year after year.

Only you can do that.

Thanks for reading,

- The E4E Team

P.S. Next month’s issue will be on teacher mental health, something we hope you’re stocking up on this summer. Help us out by taking this survey before your memories of summer dissipate into holiday bliss:

In the last school year, was there ever a time where you felt excessively stressed?

 

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