Monday, October 01, 2007

No Teacher Left Behind


Teacher education today is just not what it was years ago. I see it in the new teachers coming up, particularly in mathematics.When I started teaching, my AP (a woman known throughout the city as being a major bitch) demanded that her teachers used correct mathematical language. It was not acceptable to say that the kids were weak students, or in remedial math, we had to use precise vocabulary. Our kids learned. We learned how to ask questions and how to write exams. My AP could walk into any classroom and teach any lesson for any subject given in the department. We might not have liked her, but we learned from her, AP's today are not master teachers. I had an AP a few years ago that could barely teach Math A and had no concept of how to do a geometric proof. He observed a calculus class and raved about a problem I had gone over which was really a poorly written question. I used it to stress a couple of points, none of which he grasped. When he left, a kid said "does that guy know any math?" He obviously did not. With AP's like this, new teachers are not getting the guidance they need.

Teacher education is also lacking. Group work is the thing to do and that seems to be stressed in a lot of education classes. Education professors have been out of the high school classroom for so long that they have forgotten what is needed in those situations. I see young teachers that only use computer generated exam questions, never writing their own. I see new teachers totally relying on the one textbook the class is using, and never referring to other sources. The school days are so jam packed and structured that teachers do not have time to talk to others in their department and to see what others are teaching and how they are doing it.

I know that most of the things I learned about teaching was learned from my peers. In this country, there are plenty of teachers being left behind, not because they don't have the ability, but because they don't have the proper education.

11 comments:

Future Spanish Teacher said...

That's what I'm concerned about in my preparatory program. In High School, I spent a lot of time as a TA and with my teachers just absorbing their daily life - I was lucky to have a string of very good teachers who taught very effectively and creatively. I asked them about their methods and whatnot because I know that in three years, as I've supposedly been educated enough to do an internship, I'll have been out of the HS classroom long enough to have forgot what it's REALLY like being there.

And the students have no problem seeing the rift between the Old Guard DIY teachers and the new out-of-the-box teachers. They also respect the Old Guard teachers much more.

jonathan said...

I think math gets it the worst. Physics could, but the ed schools are careful about messing around too too much with the hard sciences because of the lab portion.

proofoflife said...

Now that the the DOE has decided to go back to the districts, and principals are being held "accountable".No mentors will be sent to the school to help the newbies. Principals were required to go online and state exactly how they intend to provide professional development for the new staff. In my building the new teachers have no idea what that plan is! I have to keep reminding them to ask what type of mentoring program the principal has in store for them. My advice for the newbie is to find a really great teacher and make a friend fast. Most of us are very willing to share any words of wisdom, and tools we have collected in our bag of tricks.

17 (really 15) more years said...

The new teachers in my school are beyond hideous. I hate to say it, but I don't see any of them as even having potential. I am mentoring a young lady, and she pushes into my class with her class a few times a week. She had the gall to bring papers to grade during that period! I had to explain that it wasn't an extra prep for her, that she was supposed to be watching and learning. Last week I had her working with a group of students. They were arguing with her because she was doing the problems wrong! (did I mention this was a special ed class?) Yesterday, she was crying to the dean because she can't control them. Is it any wonder why?

Schoolgal said...

My principal made one of the teachers a mentor by giving her more admin preps. She was never trained to be a mentor. A true mentor never reports anything negative back to the principal because you need to build trust.

As for new admins...many of them are getting certified with less than 1 year classroom experience.
The computer teacher, who had a class for a total of one year, is taking admin courses. This is only her fifth year in the system.

Jose said...

As a new teacher, I gotta say I'm a little taken aback by this, but I definitely understand where you're coming from. The problem isn't always the actual talent, but the professional development they receive. If teachers don't get guidance early on about how to teach and don't have a strong mathematical (and critical thinking) background, they're going to have a hard time actually making real in-depth lesson plans.

To that end, I say good post.

Pissed Off said...

The new teachers I have seen have the talent, just not the training or the guidance they need.

jonathan said...

It's always a mix. Some people should never teach. And a handful were born knowing how. Most of us start in between, and with help and guidance...

It is not such a great thing that first years are thrown into our worst classes. Nor is it good when the support is weak. In some schools senior teachers still give real help to beginners. Mentoring should formalize that... but it often doesn't.

Last word: you can teach (many? most?) young adults to teach, but you can't necessarily teach them math. That's an added problem in our subject area - teachers who can run a class, control the kids, make the lessons fun, but can't deliver real content. What will an AP say if a teacher fouls up the order of operation, but has high attendance and every kid is well-behaved?

windhover said...

These days teachers are not encouraged to be creative, or to even think--teachers are expected to be robots that need to be programed by other robots brainwashed and hired by the DOE, many whom have little or no classroom experience. This is no longer a career for people who love what they teach and want to impart knowledge and challenge young minds--I don't know what it means to be a teacher anymore, because the idiots in charge are not leaders, and they are constantly "reminding" you that you do not know what you are doing.

Pissed Off said...

I often wonder if some of the APs even understand the material being taught. I would love to be observed teaching a bogus lesson, where the kids participate constantly and then work in groups and make sure that none of the math is correct. I am willing to bet it would go over my AP's head. It would definitely go over Suit's head but he would write me up as being brilliant.

jonathan said...

When kids tell me their middle school teacher told them (fill in the blank with some howler - yesterday it was that zero is neither even nor odd) I am careful how I respond. 1. The teacher might really have said it. 2. The kid might not have heard right.

There is a difference between you fooling around and these folks genuinely not knowing...