Brooklyn middle school teacher Ariel Sacks reports on a meeting with fellow Bank Street College of Education alums addressing the topic of the future of teacher preparation. The one thing the group definitively agreed on, she says, was that teacher prep programs need to do a better job of helping prospective educators understand the communities in which they will work:
Most notably, we all believed that preparation to work in the specific neighborhoods in which we ended up teaching was very much needed, but we'd had to go about this task ourselves in our own ways. We agreed that understanding where our students were coming from, their linguistic and cultural backgrounds, and the resources and issues in their neighborhoods is of tremendous value once you're in the classroom. This understanding on the part of the teacher can be the unspoken ingredient that makes the difference between whether or not students trust the teacher and even whether or not the teacher is seen as effective in their early years.
This is not surprising coming from Sacks. She has an excellent article in the current issue of our Teacher PD Sourcebook on connecting writing instruction and community awareness.