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.