An opinion piece I read back in the World Before Covid about teachers buying lesson plans on the Teachers Pay Teachers website, got me thinking about a topic that the author didn’t address: teacher preparation.
Author Kat Tipton argues that when she was hired as a first grade teacher, her school didn’t provide her with curriculum and fellow teachers who shared theirs didn’t have time to discuss them with her or for her to observe their teaching.
“I was in over my head and had no idea what I was doing,” Tipton wrote.
Whatever one’s stance on teachers selling their lesson plans (I personally agree with the US Copyright office about sales of works made for hire), it is certainly worth inquiring what Tipton’s undergraduate preparation involved that she was shocked to find she was expected to prepare her own materials.
Did she think her college education profs were following curricula someone had handed to them?
My guess is that she entered teaching after completing a bachelor’s program in elementary education, which presumably would have included student teaching. I spent a week observing in an elementary school classroom before deciding elementary teaching wasn’t for me—people who choose to do that qualify either for sainthood or the psych ward—but that week was enough for me to realize the teachers are on their own.
Didn’t Tipton have to prepare lesson plans when she did student teaching?
When I went for a MACT in the humanities, although I had done my undergrad work in psychology, I was offered a teaching assistantship in my university’s English department. All the other TAs had English education backgrounds; some had been teaching English in public schools for years. We weren’t given a curriculum or even textbooks. The course description in the college catalog was considered adequate direction.
When I started working online with ELA teachers in 2008, the majority who visited my website were teachers with 15 or more years’ experience. They had exhausted themselves looking for materials that worked, but they at least had had materials to use.
I wonder if newly-fledged junior-high and high school English teachers are, like Tipton, over their heads and without any idea what they are doing when facing an ordinary, bricks-and-mortar classroom.
I’m not sure I want to know what the newly-credentialed teacher faces in the fall of 2020 when classroom teaching seems a distant memory.
©2020 Linda G. Aragoni