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Teachers Need to Learn How to Teach

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A recent article in the Wall Street Journal revealed that education experts are pushing for a major redo of teacher-prep programs in our country, with tougher admission and graduation standards and a much bigger emphasis on classroom training for candidates who wish to teach in elementary and secondary schools.

school teacher

This panel would like teacher-training programs to "operate more like medical schools," meaning that, before they can get a license to teach kindergarten through twelfth grade, teachers would log in significant hands-on time in classrooms to prove they are able to help students make progress.

In the article, James Cibulka, president of the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education said, "We need large, bold, systemic changes. As a nation, we are expecting all of our students to perform at high levels, so it follows that we need to expect more of our teachers as they enter the classroom."

As it is today in most states, our future educators only spend 10 to 12 weeks shadowing teachers or student-teaching, and the rest of their time soaking in college lectures. The most disconcerting thing? Studies show that students who opt to enter teacher-education programs generally have lower grade-point averages or lower scores on college-entrance exams than students who enter other professions.

Sharon Porter Robinson, president of the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education, said, "We need to become a more competitive career choice and we need to tap into a much wider span of the talent pool." The panel hopes to achieve this by advocating for a more rigorous accreditation process.

What do you guys think? Do you think the teaching accreditation process should be more stringent?

next: Can You Prepare Your Kids for the Future?
20 comments so far | Post a comment now
Kristen November 19, 2010, 11:28 AM

I think that “classroom rotations” would be AWESOME, it would also help those wanting to go into the profession understand what they have to do and if they can handle it. I also firmly believe that teachers need to be paid more, without better pay your not going to get the top of their class college graduates.

Anonymous November 19, 2010, 12:28 PM

YES teachers need more stringent training!! The majority of my friends are teachers and the only reason they went into it was for summers off and winter/spring break and getting paid a full time salary to work a 160 day of the year job. Most teachers aren’t there to “teach” but for all the benefits/perks.

I think teachers need merit based pay and better training.

Rachel November 19, 2010, 1:12 PM

Anon — I don’t know where your teacher friends teach, but I’ve been teaching for a number of years in a low-income school within one of the nation’s largest school districts. I PROMISE that very, very few of the teachers currently working today got in it for the summers and “full pay for 180 days.” (I have that in quotations because it’s not realistic.) After teaching for as long as I have been, I can honestly say that I stay in teaching for the summer/Christmas off reason, along with many others. As teaching is now, it is not a profession that keeps many quality professionals, so for many of us, the vacations and steady paychecks are the reason we stay (but not our original reason for getting into the profession). It is difficult to do our jobs the way we know best with numbers to meet (similar to sales quotas), administrators’ hoops to jump through, and irresponsibile and agressive parents.

???? November 19, 2010, 3:24 PM

I knew at least one whining teacher would comment.

another Rachel November 19, 2010, 3:44 PM

Don’t be ignorant. Teachers aren’t paid for summer, spring or winter breaks—they just opt to have their 10 months of pay spread into 12 checks. Give me a break.

Rachel November 19, 2010, 3:52 PM

???? — Please, please, PLEASE come do my job for one week. ONE WEEK. Then talk.

moms need to be parents November 19, 2010, 4:48 PM

Teachers could teach better if parents would actually parent their children. Can’t teach a room full of jackasses. But yea there are a lot of crappy teachers out there. Blahblahblah.

mom of 3 November 20, 2010, 9:08 AM

Why is it that teachers get all the blame and none of the freedom to decide how to do their jobs? Why do we need more training or “highly qualified teachers” when districts are providing scripted curriculums that must be used? When teachers are free to choose their curiculum and methods of teaching then they should be well trained and well compensated but as it is now, all we really need are people who can follow a script.

thewildmind November 20, 2010, 10:29 AM

Mom of 3 is totally correct. Teaching these days, especially in low-income areas, is highly scripted. There are pro’s and con’s to that. Don’t kid yourselves. Gone are the days when the teacher made all the decisions about what and how to teach. Those decisions are largely legislated by politicians who have never been in a classroom and voted for by taxpayers, who then turn around and blame teachers for being incompetent.
Anonymous has no clue about the reality of education in our society today and teachers’ motivations for entering the field. It doesn’t logically follow that one’s finite myopic experience can legitimately be generalized to “most” teachers. Furthermore, if this country goes to “merit pay”, who will teach those students in low income areas facing the highest risk factors. After all, those students are the least likely to show improvement because, if they even attend school regularly, schooling is less a priority than finding food and shelter.
But back to the question at hand: do teachers need more stringent training? Possibly, but when the minimum requirement for most teachers is already a graduate degree and the pay scale even after spending 20 years in the profession is not even a fraction of what a medical student can hope to earn, it isn’t likely to be a viable solution.
We need to stop pointing the finger at teachers, teacher training, unions, parents and casting blame. We need to recognize that our societal circumstances are what they are and we all need to work together to come up with viable, sustainable, realistic and effective solutions. Pointing fingers and casting blame, especially by those who have never spent a day in a classroom since they left school themselves, is not a step in the right direction.

Rachel November 20, 2010, 10:40 AM

Thewildmind makes a good point.
Everyone thinks they know how teaching should work because they’ve personally experienced a classroom. Well, I’ve personally experienced a dentist’s office, but I doubt you want me drilling into your teeth anytime soon.

thewildmind November 20, 2010, 10:54 AM

Rachel, funny! Excellent comment.

Kim November 20, 2010, 11:16 AM

Are you guys kidding me with these comments? I work in an urban middle school. These teachers are paid next to nothing, put in many hours over and above at home, and have to deal with kids who either don’t want to learn, don’t speak English, or just don’t care. A very frustrating environment. Parents don’t show up for conferences. Yeah, they get paid over the summer, but their pay reflects that. Teaching is a profession that one most really be passionate about and love kids. Would any of you posters like to teach a room full of 7th graders that 80% English is not their native language, 20% have some kind of juvie record for violence, and the rest are just trying to get by, all for a salary of $32,000/year? Didn’t think so.

alison November 20, 2010, 4:49 PM

I agree with thewildmind. Pointing fingers is getting us nowhere. But, what about the well behaved children with very involved parents? The ones whose parents want them to get an education that encourages them to ask questions and fosters a lifelong desire to learn? This is why I am resorting to homeschooling - with a classical style tutorial program for humanities.
I am tired of the grumpy teachers that my kids can’t talk to and the constant complaining from “overworked” teachers who are in a school that has at least one parent helping in each classroom and the workroom all day each day. Most of us spend no less than 8 hours a week in the school to ensure the teachers never have to make their own copies, punch their own holes, laminate, decorate their rooms, or run out of supplies (because the parents keep the wish lists filled). These teachers wouldn’t make it one semester in a school with real needs.
Then, the kids are all supposed to learn the same way and just memorize the necessary material and move on - never wanting more depth or knowing how to apply the topics. So, I spend 2-3 hours a night reteaching so they can actually learn something to connect the vocab. words to.

Michael November 20, 2010, 5:43 PM

I agree with Anonymous and out the abscripted curriculums the district makes the teachers use. In our county teachers and superintendent’s office are both at fault. We also have had abusive and immoral teachers over children. But the same goes for most of the county. My sister is a teacher and I have worked in the court system and also had personal experience here. And one state is no different than another. It’s long been shown teachers don’t know and can’t teach their subject matter and are only out for the benies and some don’t even like children.

Anonymous November 21, 2010, 6:41 AM

Kristen, that should be ‘you’re’ As in, “you’re not going to get”

As for the suggestions made in the article, I think they’re great ideas as long as the people are paid for their time. Much as teachers enjoy being with children, they don’t do it for free. That should be reflected during the college course.

Anonymous November 22, 2010, 5:50 AM

Rachel - this is the “anon” you commented to.

My friends work up and down the east coast -from Florida up through maine with the majority in the NJ/Philadelphia area. My lowest paid teaching friend is making $55k per year for only being contracted for 177 days.
None of them pay for their benefits and are guaranteed a pension after a “tenure” of 3 years.

I’m currently getting certified now because after working my butt off in the real world I’m seeing how many perks teachers get!! All of my teaching friends are home by 3:30 pm and their days start between 8/9. HELLO!! I can’t WAIT to be certified.

The only teachers who need a pay raise are pre-school. They are doing a heck of a job for $8/hour!!

michelle November 22, 2010, 12:02 PM

Rachel and the other teachers: you totally miss the point (maybe on purpose since the truth is probably painful for you). No one is saying that current teachers don’t work hard. No one is denying that it’s a mostly thankless, underpaid profession, and no one is denying that part of the problem isn’t parents and students. But that is not the point. A large part of the problem is that the best and the brightest do not go into teaching. Standards for entering the profession are not rigorous (as the statistic about teachers having lower than average GPAs can attest) and teachers don’t even need to have majored in (or even ever studied) the subject(s) they are teaching. This is why so many of us have to educate our kids in private school, where we pay $$$$ (on top of property taxes) to make sure that they are taught by professionals who are themselves extremely well educated, who are passionate about what they do, are paid $100K to do it, and are fired immediately if they don’t do it well.

Teresa November 30, 2010, 2:41 PM

In the state of Kentucky you better have a high GPA or you will not be a teacher. The teaching jobs go to 3.50 GPA and above. I am going to be a teacher and I do have to go through student-teaching. I have TWS and KTIP for the first year just to keep my job. Other states do not require as much as Kentucky yet our students do not always get high scores on state test. Why? it can be the teachers fault but you parents need to realize we can not do it all. Get involved with your child’s education.

parental control February 16, 2011, 12:05 AM

Teachers can contact with parents more often to make children learn more with ease.
Juderate @ parental control

Nanci Kommer April 5, 2011, 12:05 PM

Fantastic ideas, thanks are in order for taking the time to think of it

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