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Actors Can Help Prepare Teachers

The best preparation for college graduates who want to become teachers still remains student teaching. Yet there is another prior step that shows promise ("Actors draw med school students into caregiver role," Los Angeles Times, Feb. 24).  It involves the use of actors who play the role of students.

Medical schools have found the strategy helpful with their students.  It allows mistakes to be made on actors rather than on actual patients, and the actors can be given scripts to simulate a wide variety of clinical conditions.  The Keck School of Medicine at USC has been using this approach since 1964 with success.

I think the same scenario can benefit college graduates before they start their actual student teaching. Critics will be quick to note that nothing can substitute for the real classroom.  I agree. But just as flight simulators have proven quite effective in preparing pilots before they actual fly a plane, I maintain that actors can do the same for prospective teachers.

Let's not forget that classroom management is the No. 1 challenge for new teachers.  Nothing they learn in their education classes quite prepares them for addressing the wide variety of situations they encounter.  And nothing ever will exactly.  But we can at least try to apply what medical schools have learned.

Actors can create scenarios that mimic actual classroom situations.  By exposing prospective teachers, we innoculate them against the realities they will eventually face. In doing so, we can help them decide if they are suited for a career in teaching.  Better that they find out sooner than later.

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The opinions expressed in Walt Gardner's Reality Check are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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