On Wednesday, October 24, the NY Daily News ran an editorial: Central challenge: Teaching teachers. The article talks about many of the controversies in education today but the part that interested me the most was the part about teacher education and the need for high quality teacher preparation programs. And, while I agree this is important (I had a dynamite methods teacher and advisor when I student taught) it did not prepare me for what I faced in my own classroom. The article recommends a year of paid clinical practice under the supervision of an experienced mentor.
This editorial brought me back to my first term teaching. I was 21 years old, fresh out of college. I walked into a classroom, green. I expected things to flow, like they did when I student taught. I was heart broken when my lessons did not go over as I expected or when the kids did not listen. I was blessed with the most wonderful teacher next door who took me under his wing and showed me what it was like to be in a classroom and how to get kids to listen and learn. So many years later, we are still friends and he still never lets me forget that he was my savior.
The new teachers today are not going to get paid mentors. The schools won't spend the money. Besides, there are just too many new teachers. And, there aren't enough experienced teachers left to help as all the veterans are being pushed out. The article says that parents would always prefer a seasoned teacher to a rookie and I agree. What I disagree strongly with is the statement that there is a sharp increase in teacher effectiveness in year two and a small increase in year three with performances then leveling off after that. A teacher learns more each day and while effectiveness will level off, it will take at least 5 years and closer to 10 do this.
(Pictured above is a Jones Beach pigeon, very well fed)