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How Would You Change Teacher Prep?

How Would You Change Teacher Prep?

In an Education Week Commentary last year, Linda Darling-Hammond wrote that teachers "reach the profession through a smorgasbord of training options, from excellent to awful." Regardless of your stance on the efficacy of alternative routes vs. traditional college-based programs vs. residencies, there's no denying that all teacher preparation programs have room for improvement.

Looking back, what do you wish you'd learned or experienced during your preservice preparation? In what areas do you think teachers tend to have deficits when they first take on classrooms of their own? What aspects of your teacher preparation have you found particularly helpful in your own teaching practice? In your opinion, how will teacher prep programs need to change over the next few decades to meet evolving student and school needs?

Roundup Post: Changing Teacher Prep

By guest blogger Leanne Link, communications assistant at the Center for Teaching Quality This month's bloggers shared many ideas about how to improve teacher preparation programs. Looking for a quick recap? Below are some of the top suggestions that came out of the Roundtable discussion: • Increase Field Experience: The sooner preservice teachers can start teaching, the better, writes Megan Allen. And Dan Brown, Anna Martin, Kate Mulcahy, and Ilana Garon agree that preservice teachers need at least a year in the field before they take charge of their own classrooms. • Emphasize Mentoring: Never underestimate the power of one-on-one relationships, says ...


Prepare Teachers to Think Critically, Act Wisely

Ariel Sacks There are some crazy practices out there in schools—these days the craziest include things like hours of test prep being called "English class" and no social studies or science education. Sounds sensationalist, but that's still a true story in schools all over the country. It is easy to lose your way in an educational landscape where people who don't understand how kids learn are writing policies. Teachers can't assume that what they're being told to do necessarily makes any sense. They therefore need to be prepared to think critically about practices they are asked to adopt that...


Follow-Up: The Four-Letter Word That Can Help New Teachers

Kate Mulcahy It's a four-letter word, but it's what most teachers would say when asked to name the key factor in improving our profession: Time. We need more time to plan, learn, and collaborate, so that our time with students is more effective. And it shouldn't be surprising that (as my colleagues have stated in their responses below) preservice teachers need more guided time in classrooms. Ideally, a new teacher should develop her own craft under the guidance of a mentor. As policy expert Dana Barlin states, "One of a mentor's chief jobs is to help a new teacher close ...


Follow-Up: Utilizing Master Teachers

Anna Martin My colleagues and I seem to agree on the following: Creating opportunities for master teachers to spend part of their day mentoring new teachers is a must. Post after post extolled the value of such a system. Such hybrid roles would spread teacher leadership, ensure a "quality teacher in every classroom" even for classes assigned "first-year" teachers, and reduce new teachers' workloads to provide more time for practice and acclimation before fully taking the reins of a classroom. (Again, I'd encourage all who care about this idea to take a look at the Bay Area New Millennium Initiative ...


Follow-Up: On Teaching Apprenticeships

Ilana Garon A common thread of this week's roundtable seems to be the importance of "fieldwork" to teacher prep—specifically, spending time in a classroom in an apprenticeship setting, and the mentoring of new teachers by more experienced ones. In many teacher prep programs, this all-too-critical step is lacking; as blogger Kate Mulcahy pointed out, one of the strengths of her program was a good balance of theory and practice, while many programs err on the side of theory with too little time spent in actual classrooms. My own program, NYC Teaching Fellows, required trainees to teach summer school for ...


Follow-Up: Start Teacher Salaries at $100,000

Linda Yaron If we are to achieve different results in America's classrooms, restructuring teacher preparation is essential. But the best structure in the world will be insufficient unless we attract a new generation of emerging talent to the profession. I believe there's an efficient and effective way to do this: Raise the starting teacher salary to $100,000. We invest time and money in the things that are important to us. If education is truly important, then we need to value teachers the way we value doctors, lawyers, celebrities, athletes, or countless other professionals. A New York Times article last ...


Follow-Up: Recommendations for a Fairytale Ending

Megan Allen In my last post, I shared a wish list for teacher-preparation programs, asking the "mirror, mirror, on the wall." The truth is, we can't wait for the mirror on the wall—we must act now. To that end, I'm working as Educator in Residence at the University of Central Florida this year, and I'm advocating publicly for specific changes to teacher preparation. We must think beyond the typical student-teaching requirement of only one semester. We must embrace residency models. Preservice teachers must have time to roll up their sleeves and practice the pedagogy that they've learned about, with...


Follow-Up: One-on-Ones Make All the Difference

Dan Brown Strong teachers aren't mass-produced. During my turbulent induction via the New York City Teaching Fellows, I ran straight from mornings observing summer school at the Bronx's P.S. 85 to four-hour "Fellow Advisory" afternoon sessions in a cramped elementary school classroom several stops away on the 4-train. The classroom, used primarily for 2nd graders, was built to handle about 25 2nd-grade-sized bodies. We were 35 adults. It was uncomfortable and by the end of the interminable scripted sessions on standards and benchmarks, we fled the place. I had no personal rapport with the facilitating "Fellow Advisor," an adjunct ...


Why I Loved My Residency Program

Kate Mulcahy When it comes to teacher-training options, I consider myself lucky because I graduated from the Boettcher Teachers Program. Below are my three "must haves" for teacher training that made my teacher residency program so successful, with a final suggestion for improvement included at the end: 1. High bar to get in: The process to get into Boettcher was difficult. I had to prove I had extensive experience working with kids, write countless essays, gather recommendation letters, and pass the GRE and Praxis, just to name a few steps. Once I passed the initial screening, I participated in a ...


Restructure Time to Transform Teacher Preparation

Linda Yaron Systems function as they are designed to function, whether by default or intentional design. In our current education system, one-quarter of students across America don't graduate on time—and that number is as high as 50 percent in urban areas. Almost half of teachers leave the profession within their first five years on the job. And about a third of the profession is expected to retire in the next five years. These numbers signal a powerful need and an opportunity to restructure the design of the education system, particularly in how we recruit, train, and retain educators, as well...


Teacher Preparation With Strings Attached

Ariel Sacks I'm certainly one of the lucky ones. I can proudly say that my teacher preparation included a strong background in developmental theory, curriculum design, and student-centered pedagogy at Bank Street College. I spent a year student teaching in both private and public schools under the mentorship of an experienced teacher; and through a partnership between my first school and Bank Street, I received continued mentorship through my first two years of teaching. Still, I found my first full-time teaching position in New York City startlingly separate from the world of Bank Street. In particular, I did not know ...


Dreaming of a Better Preparation Model

Anna Martin Every teacher, at some point, has the dream. The one where it's the first day of school and you're not ready, or the students won't listen, or you forgot to wear pants. That dream. I have had some version of this dream nearly every year before the first day of school. Even now, eight years later and National Board certified, I still have it occasionally. Inevitably, I wake up, go to school, and teach without the dreamed-about incidents coming to fruition. But I used to wonder if the dream was my psyche's punishment for beginning my teaching career ...


Time to Practice Is a Need, Not a Luxury

Dan Brown Before becoming a teacher straight out of NYU at 22, I'd enjoyed a successful career as a student. Recruited by Teach For America and the New York City Teaching Fellows, I was convinced that I had this school thing figured out. I joined the Teaching Fellows because they could guarantee me a placement in New York, and then embarked on a seven-week summer training prior to teaching a 4th grade homeroom at the Bronx's P.S. 85. That frenzied summer was a blur of mornings in summer school classes and afternoons of deciphering standards, writing lesson plans, and ...


Developing a 'Teaching Identity'

Ilana Garon During my "preservice training" the summer before I began teaching in the Bronx public high schools, one of my instructors, a decorated veteran teacher, advised me not to smile during my first month in the classroom. "At all?" I asked in disbelief. "Don't do it," he said. "You'll regret it." He explained that by smiling, I'd be showing weakness, which the kids would take as license to walk all over me. He further admonished that, even when I didn't actually know the answer to a question, it was imperative that I respond with a firm yes or no—"Are...


Living Happily Ever After

Megan Allen Mirror, mirror, on the wall, let's make some teacher-prep changes, good for all! If I were queen of the world (hey, a girl can dream, right?), these are the changes I'd make. Here's what the pixie dust would do as I wave my magic wand: 1. Have our most effective teachers teach our preservice teachers. It just makes sense, and our preservice teachers crave this kind of contact. A hybrid teaching role could split an effective teacher's time between a K-12 class and a preservice class. 2. Acknowledge that location matters. University classrooms are often beautiful spaces, but ...


The opinions expressed in Teaching Ahead: A Roundtable 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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About the Contributors

  • Jessica Shyu

    Jessica Shyu

    Jessica Shyu is vice president of teacher excellence and leadership at Teach For China where she leads teams to train and develop more than 300 fir...

  • David B. Cohen

    David B. Cohen

    David B. Cohen is associate director of Accomplished California Teachers, and a National Board-certified English teacher at Palo Alto High School (...

  • Patrick Ledesma

    Patrick Ledesma

    Patrick Ledesma is a middle school technology specialist and special education department chair with Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia. A N...

  • Marilyn Rhames

    Marilyn Rhames

    Marilyn Rhames is a middle grades teacher at a charter school in Chicago and runs a nonprofit called Teachers Who Pray. Her Ed Week blog called "Ch...

  • Larry Ferlazzo

    Larry Ferlazzo

    An award-winning English and Social Studies teacher at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, Calif., Larry Ferlazzo is the author of Helping St...

  • Lori Nazareno

    Lori Nazareno

    Lori Nazareno is a dually certified National Board Certified Teacher who is serving as teacher-in residence for the Center for Teaching Quality. A ...

  • Renee Moore

    Renee Moore

    Renee has taught English and journalism for 20 years in the Mississippi Delta region at both high school and community college levels. She is Natio...

  • Carrie Kamm

    Carrie Kamm

    Carrie Kamm is a mentor-resident coach with the Academy for Urban School Leadership's Chicago Teacher Residency Program. She is also a co-author o...

  • Dave Orphal

    Dave Orphal

    Dave Orphal is a teacher and small learning communities coordinator at Skyline High School in Oakland, Calif. In his free time, he serves as a mem...

  • Noah Zeichner

    Noah Zeichner

    Noah Zeichner is a National Board-certified teacher at Chief Sealth International School in Seattle, Wash. He also spends part of his day supportin...

  • Noah Patel

    Noah Patel

    Noah Patel is a 7th-year middle school math teacher in the Boston Public School District and a National Board-certified teacher. He received his ba...

  • Jessica Hahn

    Jessica Hahn

    Jessica Hahn has taught elementary grade children for six years in Phoenix and New York City. She has a master's degree in literacy from Teachers C...

  • Rebecca Schmidt

    Rebecca Schmidt

    Rebecca Schmidt is in her fifth year of teaching in D.C. Public Schools. She is team leader of the 3rd grade at Bancroft Elementary, and also runs ...

  • Bill Farmer

    Bill Farmer

    Bill Farmer has been teaching biology and chemistry for nine years at Evanston Township High School in Evanston, Ill. He is currently serving his t...

  • Ryan Kinser

    Ryan Kinser

    Ryan Kinser is a 2012-13 teacherpreneur at the Center for Teaching Quality. He divides his time between teaching English to sixth graders at Walker...

  • Dan Brown

    Dan Brown

    Dan Brown teaches high school English in Washington, D.C. He is the author of The Great Expectations School: A Rookie Year in the New Blackboard Ju...

  • Sarah Henchey

    Sarah Henchey

    Sarah Henchey is a National Board Certified Teacher and a 2012-13 Teacher in Residence at the Center for Teaching Quality. Sarah has taught middle ...

  • Marsha Ratzel

    Marsha Ratzel

    Marsha Ratzel is a National Board-certified teacher in the Blue Valley School District in Kansas, where she teaches middle school math and science....

  • Jessica Keigan

    Jessica Keigan

    As a teacherpreneur, Jessica divides her time evenly between teaching English at Horizon High School in Denver and supporting results-oriented effo...

  • Michael Moran

    Michael Moran

    Michael Moran is a former sixth grade teacher currently pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree at the University of Washington's Evans S...

  • Ryan Niman

    Ryan Niman

    Ryan Niman teaches English and Social Studies in the Edmonds School District north of Seattle, Washington. Ryan is a member of the Washington New M...

  • Megan Allen

    Megan Allen

    Megan M. Allen is a National Board-certified Teacher in Tampa, Fla. As a 2012-13 teacherpreneur, Megan spends half of her week teaching 5th graders...

  • Ilana Garon

    Ilana Garon

    Ilana Garon has been teaching high school English in the Bronx since she graduated from Barnard College in 2003. Her writing has appeared in The Gu...

  • Anna Martin

    Anna Martin

    Anna L. Martin is the resource teacher at Lee Mathson Middle School, a public school in an urban high-needs district in San Jose, Calif. A National...

  • Kate Mulcahy

    Kate Mulcahy

    Kate Mulcahy, a Boettcher Teachers Program graduate, has taught for five years as an English & English Language Learner teacher at Northglenn High ...

  • Ariel Sacks

    Ariel Sacks

    Ariel Sacks teaches 8th grade English at a middle school in Brooklyn, N.Y. An alumna of Bank Street College of Education, she is a co-author of TEA...

  • Linda Yaron

    Linda Yaron

    As an English teacher in an inner-city high school in Los Angeles, Linda Yaron has spent the last nine years working to increase opportunities for ...

  • Bill Ferriter

    Bill Ferriter

    Bill Ferriter (@plugusin on Twitter) carries about a dozen different titles around with him each day. He's a member of the Teacher Leaders Network,...

  • Robert Pronovost

    Robert Pronovost

    Robert Pronovost is a 2nd grade teacher and MOUSE Squad student tech advisor at Belle Haven Elementary in Menlo Park, CA. Robert has been a teacher...

  • Nancy S. Gardner

    Nancy S. Gardner

    A renewed National Board Certified Teacher, Nancy Gardner teaches senior English at Mooresville High School in Mooresville, N.C. She is also chair ...

  • Karl Ochsner

    Karl Ochsner

    Karl Ochsner is a 7th and 8th grade science teacher at Blessed Pope John XXIII Catholic School in Scottsdale, Arizona, and teaches classes on K-12 ...

  • Joel Malley

    Joel Malley

    Joel Malley teaches AP literature, along with mass media and film production, at Cheektowaga Central High School outside Buffalo, NY. He is an acti...

  • Jennie Magiera

    Jennie Magiera

    Jennie Magiera is a 4th and 5th grade math teacher and a technology and mathematics curriculum coach in Chicago Public Schools. A Teacher Leaders N...

  • Lauren Hill

    Lauren Hill

    Lauren Hill teaches AP Language and Composition and 9th grade English at Western Hills High School in Frankfort, Kentucky. A National Board Certif...

  • Todd Rackowitz

    Todd Rackowitz

    Todd Rackowitz has been teaching math for 21 years in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system in North Carolina. A National Board-certified teacher...

  • Alison Wright

    Alison Wright

    Ali Wright teaches Algebra 2 and AP Calculus at Lafayette High School in Lexington, Ky. A National Board-certified teacher with 11 years of experie...

  • David Ruenzel

    David Ruenzel

    David Ruenzel is an English teacher at the Athenian School in Danville, Calif. From 1992-2001 he was a senior writer at Teacher Magazine and contri...

  • Bill Ivey

    Bill Ivey

    Bill Ivey teaches 7th grade Humanities, French, and music at Stoneleigh-Burnham School in Western Massachusetts. He is a member of the Teacher Lead...

  • Cheryl Suliteanu

    Cheryl Suliteanu

    Cheryl Suliteanu has taught elementary school students in Oceanside, Calif. for 15 years. She is a National Board-certified teacher with certificat...

  • José Vilson

    José Vilson

    Jos Vilson is a math teacher, coach, and data analyst for a middle school in the Inwood/Washington Heights neighborhood of New York. A poet, web d...

  • Jennifer Barnett

    Jennifer Barnett

    Jennifer Barnett is an English and social studies teacher and technology specialist in Talladega County, Ala. She is a co-author of Teaching 2030: ...

  • Delonna Halliday

    Delonna Halliday

    Delonna Halliday is a Literacy Coach at First Creek Middle School in Tacoma, Wash. She has a background in TV/movie production, spent a year teachi...

  • Meenoo Rami

    Meenoo Rami

    Meenoo Rami, founder of the #engchat weekly Twitter chat for English teachers, teaches her students English at Science Leadership Academy in Philad...

  • Sarah Brown Wessling

    Sarah Brown Wessling

    Sarah Brown Wessling is a high school English teacher at Johnston High School in Johnston, Iowa. She is also serving as TCHr Laureate for the Teac...

  • Paul Barnwell

    Paul Barnwell

    Paul Barnwell teaches English and digital media at Fern Creek Traditional High School in Louisville, Ky. In his spare time, he enjoys bow hunting, ...

  • Dedy Fauntleroy

    Dedy Fauntleroy

    Dedy Fauntleroy is an ELL instructional coach in Seattle Public Schools. In her previous life, she served as an ELD specialist, mentor teacher, and...

  • Shannon C'de Baca

    Shannon C'de Baca

    Shannon C'de Baca has been a science teacher for the last 34 years. She currently teaches a blended online chemistry course. Shannon has written le...

  • Mark Sass

    Mark Sass

    Mark Sass has been teaching high school social sciences for 16 years, for the past 12 years at Legacy High School in Broomfield, Colorado. Mark is ...

  • Brooke Peters

    Brooke Peters

    Brooke Peters has taught kindergarten and 1st grade in Los Angeles and New York City for 10 years. As co-founder of The Odyssey Initiative, Brooke ...

  • Lillie Marshall

    Lillie Marshall

    Lillie Marshall (@WorldLillie on Twitter) has been a teacher in the Boston Public Schools since 2003, and is passionate about creative forms of tea...

  • Jessica Cuthbertson

    Jessica Cuthbertson

    Jessica Cuthbertson, a Colorado educator with 10 years' experience, teaches middle school literacy and has served as a literacy instructional coach...

  • Justin Minkel

    Justin Minkel

    Justin Minkel teaches second and third grade in northwest Arkansas at Jones Elementary, where 97 percent of students live in poverty and 85 percent...

  • Jane Fung

    Jane Fung

    Jane Fung is a National Board-certified teacher in urban Los Angeles, where she currently teaches 1st grade. She serves on the board of the Nationa...

  • Sandy Merz

    Sandy Merz

    August (Sandy) Merz III, a National Board-certified teacher in Career and Technical Education, teaches engineering and algebra at Safford K-8 Inter...

  • Silvestre Arcos

    Silvestre Arcos

    Silvestre Arcos is the founding 5th grade math teacher at KIPP: Washington Heights Middle School in New York City. He studied human development and...

  • Matthew Holland

    Matthew Holland

    Matthew Holland is a native of Alexandria, Va., and a product of the city's public school system, where he is currently an elementary school teache...

  • Jody Passanisi

    Jody Passanisi

    Jody Passanisi is a middle school teacher at an independent school in the Los Angeles area and a clinical educator for DeLeT's teacher induction pr...

  • Bud Hunt

    Bud Hunt

    Bud Hunt is an instructional technology coordinator for the St. Vrain Valley Schools in northern Colorado. He works with teachers and technologists...

  • Elizabeth Duffey

    Elizabeth Duffey

    After 37 years as a high school English teacher, Elizabeth Duffey took a position as facilitator of instruction in literacy in the Tacoma Public Sc...

  • Lhisa Almashy

    Lhisa Almashy

    Lhisa Almashy is an ESOL teacher at Park Vista High School in Lake Worth, Fla. A 2012 winner of Teaching Tolerance's Cultural Responsive Teaching A...

  • Darnell Fine

    Darnell Fine

    Darnell Fine is a multicultural thinker who facilitates education and creative writing seminars, as well as social justice workshops, around the co...

  • Ben Curran

    Ben Curran

    Ben Curran is a K-5 instructional coach at a charter school in Detroit. He is also co-founder of Engaging Educators, co-author of Learning in the 2...

  • Jennifer Martin

    Jennifer Martin

    Jennifer Martin is an English teacher at Wootton High School in Rockville, Md. During her 12 years in the classroom, Jennifer has taught nearly eve...

  • Casie Jones

    Casie Jones

    Casie Jones is an English teacher at Martin Luther King Jr. Student Transition Academy in Memphis. She is a Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellow and a...

  • Ryan Prosser

    Ryan Prosser

    Ryan Prosser is an National Board-certified teacher in early adolescent english language arts and currently works as an instructional facilitator i...

  • Rod Powell

    Rod Powell

    Rod Powell, a National Board-certified teacher (social studies), has been teaching for 26 years. A CTQ Collaboratory member, Rod loves the challeng...

  • Pernille Ripp

    Pernille Ripp

    Pernille Ripp (@PernilleRipp) is a 5th grade teacher in Wisconsin, a proud techy geek, creator of the GlobalRead Aloud Project, co-founder of EdCam...

  • Elizabeth Stein

    Elizabeth Stein

    Elizabeth Stein has been teaching more than 20 years and is currently a middle school special education teacher and mentor-teacher program coordina...

  • Brianna Crowley

    Brianna Crowley

    Brianna Crowley teaches high school English in Hershey, Pa. She also serves an instructional-technology coach to implement her district's BYOD poli...

  • Julie Hiltz

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    Julie Hiltz is a 2013-2014 CTQ teacherpreneur who helps Florida teachers personalize their leadership roles and works as an educational-media speci...

  • Carl Finer

    Carl Finer

    Carl Finer has taught in South Los Angeles for ten years, currently teaching English and journalism at Animo Jefferson Charter Middle School. He is...

  • Tim Walker

    Tim Walker

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    Margit Timakov

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    Meredith Kohl

    Meredith Kohl is special projects manager for Project Tomorrow and lower elementary education director for Bridges Reading and Writing Institute, b...

  • Hillary Greene

    Hillary Greene

  • Brad Clark

    Brad Clark

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    William Tolley

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    Kristina Holzweiss

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    Laura Thomas

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    Kathleen Melville

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    Jackson Barnett

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    James Mann

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    Isabel Song

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    Scarlett Gaddy

    Scarlett Gaddy is a high school social studies educator of 24 years in Tuscaloosa, Ala. She is a past recipient of the Williams College George Olms...

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    Val Brown

    Val Brown is a 10-year educator who supports elementary school teachers as a teacher on assignment in Seminole County Public Schools in Florida. Sh...

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    Kim Ursetta

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