Training Teachers

I've complained many times about the pitfalls of graduate teacher education.  Finally, someone who GETS IT has a national platform.  Her main points:

These new teacher programs should be selective, requiring a 3.5 undergraduate grade point average and an intensive application process. But they should also be free of charge, and admission should include a stipend for the first three years of teaching in a public school.

Huh.  Not sure about the free of charge part, or the forcing teachers to teach in a public school part.  But selectivity is definitely key.  Call me crazy, but I think teachers should be smart.

Too often, teaching students spend their time studying specific instructional programs and learning how to handle mechanics like making lesson plans. These skills, while useful, are not what will transform a promising student into a good teacher.

TELL ME ABOUT IT!  Writing a lesson plan was a very useful exercise . . . the first time.  Now I know how to do it, and yet I've had to do it many more times since then, to no one's benefit.

Future teachers should continue studying the subject they hope to teach, with outstanding professors. It makes no sense at all to stop studying the thing you want to teach at the very moment you begin to learn how.

Especially when future teachers didn't major in the subject they hope to teach, as I didn't.  How is that legal?!

Teachers must also learn far more about children: typically, teaching students are provided with fairly static and superficial overviews of developmental stages, but learn little about how to watch children, using research and theory to understand what they are seeing.

Yes, and yes, and yes.  I learned so much about child psychology from my piano training and experience.  My classmates did not.  They are frequently blindsided and dumbfounded by some of the most basic principles.  Example: most children are so terrified of failure that they will resort to cheating, hitting, and shutting down before they will make an attempt that might not succeed.  Creating an environment that is nurturing and safe is absolutely paramount.

Give as many public schools as possible the financial incentives to hire these newly prepared teachers in groups of seven or more. This way, talented eager young teachers won’t languish or leave teaching because they felt bored, inept, isolated or marginalized. Instead, they will feel part of a robust community of promising professionals. They will struggle and learn together. Good teachers need good colleagues.

Again, I don't like that this is only applicable to public schools, but it's a great principle.  My first year was horrible, mostly because I didn't know anyone else who was struggling.  If I hadn't accidentally bumped into someone in exactly the same boat, or if I hadn't been married to someone who had been in the same boat before, I probably would have quit.  I remember vividly the afternoon I made a comment that led to a conversation that reassured me: students could be awful, the pay is awful, and I wasn't crazy for thinking both.  That gave me the courage to try another day.