Five Big Changes to the Future of Teacher Education

| November 22, 2011 | 13 Comments
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In the book Teaching 2030 by Barnett Berry and 12 classroom experts, the authors pinpoint specific skills educators will need to teach in the schools of tomorrow. They say teachers must be prepared to find and adapt new technologies to engage the digital generation, as well as work across traditional subject areas using project learning. They must be able to use data and evidence to inform their practice and know how to work in both virtual learning environments and brick-and-mortar schools. And they’ll need to collaborate with community-based organizations and work in schools that provide all kinds of other services for students and their families.

Along those lines, Berry has outlined five changes he believes need to be made to the future of teacher education.

  1. INFORMED BY NEED. University-based education schools currently produce about 170,000 graduates every year — but only 70 percent of those actually enter teaching. One reason is the mismatch between production and market demand. In some “teacher surplus” states, universities graduate far too many teachers prepared for subjects and areas in low demand (such as elementary, physical education, social studies), while math, science, and special education vacancies continue to frustrate school leaders as well as parents. And because of the way education schools are funded, most universities offer just about every kind of teacher education major, irrespective of the local needs of area districts looking for new recruits. In the future, as long as we have the right policies in place, education schools should recruit and prepare those who are needed — and use the cost savings to recruit the right teachers who can teach the right subjects — as well as invest more in the right kind of pedagogical training.
  2. INVESTMENTS IN CLINICAL TRAINING. Most university-based teacher education programs, unlike those in engineering, architecture, and nursing (and of course medicine), have few resources to prepare recruits in clinical, or real-life, contexts. Future teachers have had little opportunity to learn how to teach in schools under the tutelage of master teachers and college faculty who can closely supervise them and ensure they pass muster on rigorous (and more expensive) performance assessments. Teachers must also learn how to work effectively in both virtual networks as well as in community-based organizations that serve student learning in 24/7 venues. Policymakers must do their share by investing in the clinical training of future teachers, who can learn how to teach by interning in the places and with the people with whom they work in order to serve students effectively.
  3. CHANGING THE CONTEXT OF CONTENT. Most education schools have taught teachers how to know things and think about things. But they’ve never had the chance to practice implementing high-level strategies, like communicating with parents and eliciting student thinking around subject areas. How do you teach someone to unpack a student’s thinking around specific subjects, in physics, social studies, literature? How do you build, create, and score assessments? How do you communicate student progress to not just parents but also policymakers? How do you give homework that’s meaningful? How do you help students, who are growing up on virtual reality games and Google figure out how to determine the accuracy of content and how to use it in solving problems? Universities must help future teachers understand and capitalize on the changing context of content in teaching diverse learners to meet high academic standards.
  4. SEAMLESS CONNECTIONS BETWEEN PRE-SERVICE EDUCATION AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT. With an explosion of diverse students in chaotic school environments (and growing numbers of those with special needs or whose first language is not English), it’s that much more difficult for novice teachers to be fully prepared. The teacher education system needs to ensure that pre-service teachers learn crucial skills (see #3) in settings similar to those in which they will teach. They must go through performance assessments to determine their strengths and weaknesses, and this information must be used to craft plans for their future development as educators. With virtual communities like Teacher Leaders Network, and new outlets like the Teaching Channel, teachers can learn from each other, while ed schools and school districts can find ways to capitalize on these connections. Doing all of this will require that policymakers fuse the resources of universities and school districts in creating seamless connections between pre-service training and on-going professional development.
  5. LEARNING AND LEADING IN HISTORICAL CONTEXT. In preparing all students to work in the global economy and participate in our complex, evolving democracy, public schools need to capitalize on the untapped potential of teacher leaders. Our education schools need to prepare this new generation of teacher leaders, who know how to spread their pedagogical expertise to colleagues and administrators and can communicate effectively with policymakers and parents. Doing so requires not just teachers who have technical skill in connecting good ideas with the right stakeholders and constituents, but who also have a deep understanding of how historical imperatives shape future prospects for the profession that makes all others possible. Educators who train teachers must cultivate a critical mass of teacher leaders, or teacherpreneurs, who continue to teach but have knowledge and skill to lead the transformation of teaching and learning.
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  • Lb teacher

    Good article.

    One thing is missing- psychology training.  Teachers can only be effective if they have learned or innately possess the ability to create safe classroom spaces that are learner driven, respectful and fair.

    In the hierarchy of teacher training I would say this is pretty fundamental.  All other points mentioned are worthy too!

     

  • Lb teacher

    Good article.

    One thing is missing- psychology training.  Teachers can only be effective if they have learned or innately possess the ability to create safe classroom spaces that are learner driven, respectful and fair.

    In the hierarchy of teacher training I would say this is pretty fundamental.  All other points mentioned are worthy too!

     

  • TEDUCATOR

    Where clinical models breakdown is in assuming that the teacher in which the candidate is placed with will show and demonstrate high quality teaching practices.  They don for the most part.  So we perpetuate the mediocrity.  Candidates do not see or experience innovative use of curriculum, they learn how to manage a classroom using practices designed for students 100 years ago.  It’s like having airline mechanics learn their trade by making them spend 4 years in a train yard,

    Giving candidates good clinical experiences that are integrated into their reflective learning they get from proven teacher educators who are involved in the business of doing research on best practices in education is very useful.  I would even say that more time in “real” classrooms is useful, but more time in classrooms basking in the status-qua with mediocre teachers just produces more mediocre teachers who never even attempt to be innovative.

  • TEDUCATOR

    Where clinical models breakdown is in assuming that the teacher in which the candidate is placed with will show and demonstrate high quality teaching practices.  They don for the most part.  So we perpetuate the mediocrity.  Candidates do not see or experience innovative use of curriculum, they learn how to manage a classroom using practices designed for students 100 years ago.  It’s like having airline mechanics learn their trade by making them spend 4 years in a train yard,

    Giving candidates good clinical experiences that are integrated into their reflective learning they get from proven teacher educators who are involved in the business of doing research on best practices in education is very useful.  I would even say that more time in “real” classrooms is useful, but more time in classrooms basking in the status-qua with mediocre teachers just produces more mediocre teachers who never even attempt to be innovative.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chuck-Birkholtz/100003128061474 Chuck Birkholtz

    This is a great article.  It is a great roadmap to how public educators and the institutions that prepare future teachers need to prepare themselves to compete successfully in the market place.  If educators embrace the concept of blended education delivery systems to provide instruction that is cross-curricular and project based they will succeed.

    The only thing that I would add to this article is the need for schools of education to require all subkect area teachers to take more mathematics and science in their core curriculum.  It would weed some of the potential dead wood out of the profession.  It would also allow instructors to have the base knowledge to plan project based lessons that would support student mastery in science and mathematics. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chuck-Birkholtz/100003128061474 Chuck Birkholtz

    This is a great article.  It is a great roadmap to how public educators and the institutions that prepare future teachers need to prepare themselves to compete successfully in the market place.  If educators embrace the concept of blended education delivery systems to provide instruction that is cross-curricular and project based they will succeed.

    The only thing that I would add to this article is the need for schools of education to require all subkect area teachers to take more mathematics and science in their core curriculum.  It would weed some of the potential dead wood out of the profession.  It would also allow instructors to have the base knowledge to plan project based lessons that would support student mastery in science and mathematics. 

  • Glenn

    Really interesting article – thank you. The link between CPD in University and then in their first teaching job is really important in order to keep the sense that if they themselves are to be learning leaders, they may benefit from applying this at a personal level in the first instance. May stuents leave, quite used to online learning e-foilios etc but these are then less available in the schools in which they go to teach – an opportunity missed.

  • Glenn

    Really interesting article – thank you. The link between CPD in University and then in their first teaching job is really important in order to keep the sense that if they themselves are to be learning leaders, they may benefit from applying this at a personal level in the first instance. May stuents leave, quite used to online learning e-foilios etc but these are then less available in the schools in which they go to teach – an opportunity missed.

  • http://twitter.com/coyotusofborg Randy Barron

    Completely missing from this analysis is the most important skill set of all: facilitating creative and innovative thought. Doing more and more of what we already unsuccessfully attempt, which is to “front-load” our teacher trainees with a bunch of academic information, is not going to help. This is true whether the information is psychology or math, educational theory or science.

    Teachers need hands-on training in all the arts so that they can apply that flexible, persistent, curiosity-exciting thinking across all subject areas. Without returning to “the basics,” the arts which have always helped us express and understand our universe, we will only dig ourselves into ever-deeper holes in vain pursuit of a “complete” education.

  • Geogphil

    Some very interesting ideas. As a teacher educator in England, we face some of the same issues, but there are a number of ‘truth assumptions’ here. Who says what an outstanding teacher looks like? Are they all the same, and indeed, are there outstanding teachers who are deemed merely ‘satisfactory’ under the frameworks and schemes developed by politicians? Also, for creativity and innovation to flourish (something I am passionate about myself), there is the need for the curriculum and assessment regimes which schools are required to follow, to allow this type of activity. All too often I work with dedicated teachers who wish to develop new ways of fostering learning, but feel this is not possible due to tunnel-vision frameworks created by government agencies which determine by tick sheet what outstanding means.
    We are constantly developing ever closer links with schools to ensure that the practical part of training is central, but we need to be careful that we don’t head in the direction of letting educational theory whither away – it can, and should, play an important role in developing deep understanding of classrooms and pedagogy. I find the health analogy particularly interesting as which doctor would even consider practicing without keeping up to date with the theory of medicine, and yet this is often seen as an optional extra in education. I would argue that creativity and innovation comes, in part, from deep and critical understanding of the activity and environment at hand. This in part is the result of a wider, theoretical understanding of the field. Would you continue to visit a doctor or surgeon who didn’t refresh their understanding on a regular basis? But to do all of this, perhaps one major advance would be to cut the average contact time with children each week, to allow for such deep engagement – something they already do in Japan.

  • Geogphil

    Some very interesting ideas. As a teacher educator in England, we face some of the same issues, but there are a number of ‘truth assumptions’ here. Who says what an outstanding teacher looks like? Are they all the same, and indeed, are there outstanding teachers who are deemed merely ‘satisfactory’ under the frameworks and schemes developed by politicians? Also, for creativity and innovation to flourish (something I am passionate about myself), there is the need for the curriculum and assessment regimes which schools are required to follow, to allow this type of activity. All too often I work with dedicated teachers who wish to develop new ways of fostering learning, but feel this is not possible due to tunnel-vision frameworks created by government agencies which determine by tick sheet what outstanding means.
    We are constantly developing ever closer links with schools to ensure that the practical part of training is central, but we need to be careful that we don’t head in the direction of letting educational theory whither away – it can, and should, play an important role in developing deep understanding of classrooms and pedagogy. I find the health analogy particularly interesting as which doctor would even consider practicing without keeping up to date with the theory of medicine, and yet this is often seen as an optional extra in education. I would argue that creativity and innovation comes, in part, from deep and critical understanding of the activity and environment at hand. This in part is the result of a wider, theoretical understanding of the field. Would you continue to visit a doctor or surgeon who didn’t refresh their understanding on a regular basis? But to do all of this, perhaps one major advance would be to cut the average contact time with children each week, to allow for such deep engagement – something they already do in Japan.

    • Lbteacher

      Thanks for such a thoughtful comment. I’ve been in the field 23 years and have spent the last 7 doing my best (through professional development and personal brain power reflecting) to design a new piece of curriculum, a k-12 through line I call “Variables Thinking.”

      The pedagogy need to keep moving forward just as you say. It needs to come from multiple points of view and will not be uniform. Google variables thinking to check out my work in progress.

      Cheers!

    • Lbteacher

      Thanks for such a thoughtful comment. I’ve been in the field 23 years and have spent the last 7 doing my best (through professional development and personal brain power reflecting) to design a new piece of curriculum, a k-12 through line I call “Variables Thinking.”

      The pedagogy need to keep moving forward just as you say. It needs to come from multiple points of view and will not be uniform. Google variables thinking to check out my work in progress.

      Cheers!