This post has been updated here.
This post has been updated here.
Subscribers to a monthly ezine I published* for teachers were invited to give some information anonymously about their teaching assignment and preparation for teaching nonfiction writing. As I skimmed forms completed recently, one caught my attention.
The anonymous respondent, whom I’ll refer to by a feminine pronoun simply since most of my subscribers are female, said her first language is not English. That’s not typical of my subscribers, but it’s far from rare.
She also checked that she was “totally unprepared for teaching nonfiction writing,” and that she had taught writing for less than one year. Nothing unusual there. Most of my subscribers report less than adequate preparation, though most have been teaching several years.
She indicated most of her students are between 18 and 24 years of age. That’s not typical of my subscribers, but neither is it unusual.
What caught my eye was the subscriber’s job: “Supervise teachers/administer edu program”
That is more frightening than anything I saw on Halloween.
[* Writing Points ezine ceased publication in November 2013]
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
Starting a new school year is stressful for any teacher, but especially hard on first-time teachers. Cognizant of the stress newbies experience, a group of veteran teachers share their insights into classroom essentials that were not mentioned in education classes.
Here, in no particular order, are their recommendations and rationale for their inclusion:
Have some recommendations to add? The commenting feature is open.
LaVonne Davis-Schenck, teaches French and Spanish at Cumberland High School in Cumberland, RI, is particularly sensitive to the problems facing beginning teachers as her future daughter-in-law is seeking her first teaching job.
Jennifer Henson’s sympathy for new teachers harks back to her experience in California’s compulsory program for beginning teachers, which she had to take despite her experience teaching in England. These days, she lives in Pleasanton, CA, and is training a volunteer ESL teacher.
Susan Tate, who retired after teaching middle and high school Spanish and mentoring new teachers in Arundel County, MD, for 33 years, now lives and tutors in Mechanicsville, VA.