Teaching training programs are currently the focus of intense interest in the United States. Much of the discussion has focused on how to encourage “the brightest and best students” to go into teaching.
One of the most intriguing efforts to do something practical about the quality of prospective teachers is a high school program at North Middlesex Regional School District in Pepperell, MA, called the Future Educator’s Academy.
The two-course program allows students who think they might want to become teachers to find out what being a teacher really entails.
In Foundations in Education I, students research what the standards and frameworks are for the courses they would like to teach. The learn what hoops they would have to jump through to become a teacher, what work they’d do as a teacher, and what being a “good teacher” means. They follow that up with a short job shadowing experience.
Students who are still interested in teaching after the first course go to Foundations in Education II. They do an extended job shadowing while also studying topics like lesson planning, unit preparation, student assessment and classroom management.
In many teacher preparation programs, students would not get that kind of practical exposure until their junior year of college. By then, students might have too big a financial investment to feel they can change programs if they find out they hate teaching. And even students who are “born teachers” will have missed opportunities to see the hands-on applications of their academic study.
The Future Educator’s Academy strikes me as a practical—and highly replicable—for a public school to participate in shaping its future workforce and the future of education.
Photo credit: School by Minasi