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Imagine all the Teachers

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Earlier this week, I posted this on Education Futures:

"Let your mind wonder for just a moment. As yourself this question: If I could redesign an entire teacher education program, what would it look like?

Here is my vision of a teacher education program. I imagine a teacher preparation program that:

-Challenges the individual. No one in this program would say "But I thought getting an education degree was suppose to be easy!"
-Is rigorous enough to attract intellectual, innovative, thought-leaders
-Robustly develops a student's ability to solve problem, become a critical thinker, and work collaboratively.
-Is packed with upper level courses in history, ethics, mathematics, law, economics, policy, research, engineering, biology, anatomy, chemistry, and computer sciences (just to name a few).
-Is academically challenging so that becoming a educator is professionalized at the level of doctors, lawyers, MBAs, etc.
-Stresses global, national, and local issues. Students would not only understand where Cambodia is, but have some understanding of its politics, culture, history, and relationship to the rest of the world.
-Mandates each student study abroad.
-Mandates the individual gain proficiency in a foreign language.
-Forces the pre-teacher to act on the tenants of social justice and peace education. This individual would be a skilled conflict mediator.
-Produces teachers who are intercultural leaders.

The main draw back would be that this individual may be too marketable for the teacher education profession. With skills like these, what Fortune 500 or innovate start-up company would not be banging on this person's door? This individual would be a cosmopolitan and in high demand. Thus, if such a teacher education program were created, how could we retain such individuals. Isn't this the person you want to teach your children? Why are we not doing more to create cosmopolitan educators? What is your vision? Are there revolutionary programs out there? I would love to hear about innovative approaches currently underway."

If a person were to completely redesign a principal preparation program, what would it look like? What components are must haves? What dispositions are needed by school leaders? I will post my list soon!

Jayson Richardson
Department of Educational Leadership
University of North Carolina Wilmington

4 Comments

If I were an educational leader, I'd do away with the theoretical Ethics course found in many teaching programs. What is needed for this day and age? We need an applied Ethics course that discusses many issues including teachers having sex with their students. Apparently, some teachers just don't understand why it is wrong to have sex with your students.

Exponentially more time in the classroom than in university classes. I'm not talking about "observing" either. Pre-service teachers need to "jump through the flaming hoop" before they get their own classroom, not after.

Jayson

As a charter principal who is responsible for hiring and training our own teachers, I like many of the components you list here... and we look for many of these things when we interview and vet our candidates. An interest in social justice, ethical, collaborative, creative innovative, interesting, talented-- seems like folks would come from your program with these characteristics in place.

A few components that are missing, however, that we also look for:

• We search for the best teachers on the planet. They need to be STRONG in instructional methodology... especially in their ability to individualize and differentiate instruction and work across language and cultural nuances. If they are not, we have to invest too many resources and too much time to train them. Our students don't have years to wait while the adults get up to speed. So we look for teachers who can hit the ground running.

• We search for teachers with strong background and training in the use of data. The ability to generate, analyze and adjust to data trends is missing in nearly every teacher ed program-- (and thus, every candidate) we hire. Further, the learning curve in this area is pretty steep. This forces us into hiring more veteran teachers... at a much higher cost.

• A third area we search for is teachers with an understanding of resiliency-- how it has benefitted them in their own life journey, and how they help foster resiliency in their students.

• We want teachers that are committed to our charter school, that do their homework, and know what our mission is. That too is a knack for teacher candidates. We want to know why they want to work in an environment that is so demanding, where the mountain is steep, and the expectations so high.

• We want teachers who are comfortable with all different technologies and have the flexibility and initiative to apply them. We are tired of "persuading" folks to consider the value of technology in promoting learning. (I have been doing that since the first Apple IIe days in the early '80's.)

We don't ask for much when we hire new teachers!: http://www.muellercharterschool.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=35&Itemid=104


@Kevin. I love your point about finding the best teachers in the world. I worked for a UK based company where we helped global teachers find jobs in the US. I found many districts were hesitant to hire overseas teachers due to many reasons. I found they were cutting down their applicant pool and missing a world of opportunities. You seem to be tapping into this pool....it is good to see.

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  • Jayson: @Kevin. I love your point about finding the best teachers read more
  • Kevin W. Riley: Jayson As a charter principal who is responsible for hiring read more
  • Russ Goerend: Exponentially more time in the classroom than in university classes. read more
  • James: If I were an educational leader, I'd do away with read more

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