Teacher Education Programs

<p>A new report on the quality (or lack thereof) of teacher education programs was released yesterday. It's a pretty negative report. Hopefully, there are students out there who really aspire to be teachers. To that end, allow me to highly recommend the 5 year program at Trinity University in San Antonio. That program, which my eldest daughter completed in May 2005 appears to meet the standards of a quality program espoused by this report. My daughter has just begun her 2nd year as a middle school math teacher and I cannot say enough good things about the level of preparation she received from Trinity. There must be other good programs out there, if you know of one, let the rest of us know too.</p>

<p>Here's the link to the report
<a href="http://www.edschools.org/teacher_report.htm%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://www.edschools.org/teacher_report.htm&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>BG, thanks for posting that link. It's an excellent article that summarizes much of what is wrong with education programs in college, and goes further to recommend solutions:</p>

<p>"This means teacher education students should be required to complete a traditional major in a subject area such as English, mathematics, or history. This will provide them with mastery of a content area. Then future teachers need to complete advanced study into how to effectively communicate that subject matter. This will provide them with an education in teaching and child development."</p>

<p>Which is, of course, a variation of what I was suggesting to the OP on the "picking a major once and for all" thread. She was flailing in what appears to be exactly the sort of teacher training program that Levine indicts. I advised getting her B.A. in an academic discipline, exploring the world a bit, and then coming back to vocational teacher training if that's still where her heart lies. For talented people, it's also feasible to intern/teach at an independent school, where actual teaching ability trumps certification.</p>

<p>(sorry about the edits; I need to proofread BEFORE I send.)</p>

<p>My daughter is planning to major in elementary teaching. I am checking into Trinity. My daughter wants to stay in the South. Her top choices are Elon and College of Charleston. She is already getting experience at her high school with young children. Along with her child development class she spends three periods a week at the on campus pre-school. So she is already getting hands on experience. And next year, as a senior, she can assist at the elementary school as part of a peer mentor program. I hope that colleges will see that as a commitment to teaching. Please suggest more good teaching programs.</p>

<p>I hope lots of students who want to be teachers have a chance to see this report and ask some really tough questions of the teacher education programs they investigate. The best way I know of to get them to change is when the customer demands something different.
As for other programs, I don't know anything about Clemson's program except that they have someone new in charge and their program is going through some major changes so you might want to look there.
When you look at Trinity, be sure to visit with the elementary education advisor. You could also try to visit with some of the elementary ed 5th year students to get a feel for how well prepared they think they are.
Good luck and yay for students who want to be teachers - we can never have enough of them.</p>

<p>The thing is, it's often not the colleges that decide the curriculum for certification in a state. When my daughter was looking at colleges in PA for education, they all had the same curriculum. One of the best things about her college (oos) is that she started in the classroom observing and teaching during her sophomore year, continued for a semester her junior year and now as a senior she'll have completed about 14 weeks in the classroom teaching. Each time was a different grade in a different school.</p>

<p>The specialty training is great for high schools and large middle schools, but doesn't have much to do with elementary schools where the kids are in the same classroom for most of the day. Just because one has knowledge of a subject does not mean they can teach it. I'm hoping that the people that go into education are like my daughter - passionate about it and trained well for it. </p>

<p>I think there are more people out there like her but I just don't understand the colleges that don't have the students student teaching early enough to weed out the ones that aren't suited for it. If you discover that you hate teaching your senior year, you are pretty much screwed. If I was a HS senior looking into an education major, that would be a question I would ask of prospective colleges.</p>

Just because one has knowledge of a subject does not mean they can teach it


<p>All too true, but equally damaging are teachers without adequate knowledge of the subjects they are trying to teach. Much as they try to follow the prescribed curriculum, they're clueless if a kid asks a question not covered on teacher's answer sheet. They're defensive when their grammar or their math/science pronouncements are contradicted. I'd far prefer a teacher with broad knowledge and understanding. My kids always respected that.</p>

Let's watch the broad statements. My kids have had bad teachers and good teachers, I don't think all the bad ones have education degrees and the good ones don't. In fact, I don't know if any of their teachers did not major in education. I too prefer my kids have a teacher that is teaching one subject to be knowledgeable about it and that's why secondary teachers often double major in their speciality. But, what about the people that go into college (like my daughter) that are born to teach and are good at it. Is she not supposed to major in education to learn the very best way to teach?</p>

<p>kathiep, I don't think my statement was any broader than yours. I quoted you and constructed a parallel statement: you said knowledge of a subject wasn't enough, and I said methodology wasn't enough. A teacher can be well trained in methodology, but without content, s/he will still be a poor teacher. We don't disagree here, do we?</p>

<p>Like your kids, mine have had good teachers and bad teachers (and teachers with strengths and weaknesses, just like the rest of humanity). One consistent trait of the good teachers was confidence in the material being taught, and I found this more common in the noncertificated teachers (i.e., private school teachers). Typically, these folks are excited about learning before they get excited about teaching. This applies equally to grade school and high school. A teacher who fears math, was allowed to dodge it in college, and instead learned only arithmetic teaching methodology, is not someone I want to see introducing the beauty of mathematics to little children.</p>

<p>So, no, I don't think majoring in education at state college is the best way to learn how to teach. The failure of our public schools does seem to support that notion. The Levine article explains why far better than I could.</p>

<p>In elementary school my kids' two best teachers were ones who had had other careers before going back to school for teacher ed. One had been a nurse the other an accountant. My son also had a great physics teacher in high school who had been a lawyer. I think all these late bloomers had the advantage of going into teaching sure they wanted to do it, and also with life experiences (including having children) that they could bring to the classroom.</p>

<p>I heard a sweet story about my sister in law who taught history to a bunch of slacker high school kids. They formed a small adjunct to a school that was officially K-8. My sil hadn't had much history, but had strong ideas about how to teach it - including giving the southern perspective on the Civil War. She got a letter from one of her former students saying he was majoring in history and hoped to teach high school students.</p>

<p>mathmom, that's cool -- my D, the joyous math major, had a former accountant for a teacher for eight years (Waldorf, first through eighth). D just announced this evening she's getting certified to operate her college nuclear reactor -- just for fun!</p>

<p>I'm not going to argue that a math phobic person should not be teaching math. One of my daughters inspirations for becoming a teacher were two lousy math teachers - she thought she could do a better job. I think I had two good math teachers in my life - one in fourth grade and one in college. One of my kids worst math teachers was a long term sub my son had in 10th grade for Algebra II. He had an engineering degree but decided to become a teacher. This guy either couldn't get a job and decided to teach or got that "passion" to teach but didn't know how.</p>

<p>I'll offer this up again, my daughter is one of those kids whose whole life seemed to point to teaching. She babysat early and often, she was a camp counselor every summer since she was sixteen except for one summer year when she worked in a daycare. She tutored math in HS and in college she tutored at a detention center. Now, is someone like my daughter supposed to major in History or English so that she can do a better job of teaching kids grades 4 - 8? Even though she will have had more classes in how to teach kids with special needs, classes on how to make kids understand math (yes, learn - not just formulas) and classes on differential instruction? She wouldn't be as good a teacher as someone who couldn't get a job and decided to go back and get certified because she was NOT a late bloomer and knew what she wanted to do? I do not think an English major is going to do a better job of teaching MS english then someone like my daughter who has been reading and researching young adult books for the two years because she wants to be able to teach from first hand experience. I agree that someone that just teaches one subject should be well versed in it, and that's why secondary teachers will double major in math, history, english, etc. At a school where a teacher needs to teach multiple subjects, that's just not possible.</p>

<p>Yes, the system is whacked if teachers are not taught right. My daughter is at a private college which was one of only three colleges in the state of Illinois that got a perfect score from the state regarding their education department when they were re-certified a couple of years ago. </p>

<p>The problem, imho, is 1) Bad teachers are hired because they look good on paper and interview well and then they get tenure because you pretty much get it if you don't physically abuse someone in front of witnesses and when they're observed they do a passable job. 2) Teachers that have tenure and burn out after ten years but either can't afford or are too scared to quit teaching and find something else to do so they do a lukewarm job for 20 more years. 3) Education majors that don't find out that they are not suited to teaching until senior year of college and cannot afford to change majors. They graduate and feel the only thing they are trained for is teaching.</p>

<p>The issue here is how to best prepare teachers to be successful in the classroom. If this report is accurate, then many of our college level teacher programs are not doing the job they need to be doing. Teaching EC-4 requires a different skill set than teaching 4-8 or 8-12. There is much food for thought in the report that should help prospective teachers as they investigate and choose a preparation program. Hopefully, it will also generate some self analysis and revamping of existing programs. Beyond that, we as a society need to be encouraging those who want to teach to pursue that career path. They need to know just how much we value them. Think about it - teaching just doesn't generate the "WOW" factor that wanting to be a Doctor, Lawyer, Scientist, etc generates. IMHO those who want to teach and have the gift of teaching should get an even bigger WOW from us.</p>

Beyond that, we as a society need to be encouraging those who want to teach to pursue that career path. They need to know just how much we value them. Think about it - teaching just doesn't generate the "WOW" factor that wanting to be a Doctor, Lawyer, Scientist, etc generates. IMHO those who want to teach and have the gift of teaching should get an even bigger WOW from us.


<p>BG, I think everyone here can agree with that sentiment. How to get there? The "wow" factor seems closely related to $$, so better compensation would help. But as mathmom pointed out, public schools tend to pay better than privates (thanks to unions), even though the worst teachers are in the public system (thanks to unions). As a socialist, I can't bash unions, so I'm stymied. My solution, for my own kids, for most of their years, was to choose private schools where I knew the teachers were stellar. I think a voucher system enabling all parents to choose would help.</p>

<p>My undergrad years were in a state college, a bad one, and my only choice because of my family situation. This college had/has no admission standards beyond graduation from high school, and even that was waived for some (for me, in fact). The college was historically a teacher's college (or "normal school), so although I wasn't taking education courses, most students were. It was understood that students who couldn't cut it in the "regular" classes were funneled into the education classes. These were the dumbest of the dumb, really. And the education professors weren't much brighter. The culture of mediocrity was so pervasive that it simply wasn't questioned. And this was the source of most of the state's teachers. I actually bussed my oldest kid out to the next state, to a school taught by respected teachers, when he was old enough to make the commute.</p>

<p>So, yeah, let's encourage our most capable students to go into teaching. Let's pay attention to the quality of the education programs. And when those students emerge as smart, knowledgeable, effective teachers, let's give them the respect and rewards they deserve.</p>

IMHO those who want to teach and have the gift of teaching should get an even bigger WOW from us.


<p>amen to that! i can't tell you how many people told my d that she shouldn't "settle" for teaching since she was smart enough "to do so much more." who do these people want teaching their children!!</p>

<p>Many of the top schools have education certifications rather than "education majors". See, for example, Vassar, Barnard (open to Columbia students too), Williams. These schools require that the student major in another subject, so it is almost a double major.</p>

<p>I also am concerned about the gist of some of the threads, here and on other boards about teacher training. So many have said, "If you want to go into business/engineering/science/whatever, it's important to go to a top school. If you want to be a teacher, your state teacher's college is good enough." Why? Why is it considered acceptable to have a mediocre education if you want to teach? I remember back in the dark ages when I was in college, if you wanted an easy course, you took it at the teacher's college. </p>

<p>To my mind, it should be the other way around. Teachers need the best education, not the worst. Elementary ed teachers need to know more, not less, than high school teachers because they do teach so many different subjects. All teachers must know their subjects and how to teach them. That requires a top-flight education for the teachers themselves.</p>

<p>My daughter has known for a long time that she plans to teach high school biology. While looking at colleges, she would only consider places that will allow her to double major in education and biology. The interesting thing to us (as I've posted before) is how many professors, academics and members of the general public have tried to discourage someone with her science credentials from teaching at the high school level. One would think that everyone would be best served by having a passionate and fully-qualified teacher, no? Anyway, she wants a great bio curriculum, so double majoring may be perfect for her. We hope, anyway.</p>

<p>zoosermom, kudos to your daughter. I'm grateful that she wants to teach HS. We need her. But why do you suppose all those savvy folks question her decision? I'll posit that it's because the high schools are such miserable places to work, and that the rewards (either $$ or emotional) aren't nearly enough to compensate for the daily crap she'll have to endure from kids, parents, colleagues, and administrators. The system is broken.</p>

<p>Celloguy, that's exactly it. My daughter has done some serious research on genetics and DNA (I don't understand it) and the professors at the colleges love her, but they encourage her to do something more glamorous and lucrative with her biology degree. At home, her teachers and other people we know are worried about a very pretty girl teaching in a New York City public school. Valid points, all, but her life plan and career plan make a great deal of sense to me and I think she'd be great as a teacher. I don't know what the answer is because teaching in public schools really is tough and can be unpleasant, dangerous, and all that stuff. But we do still need someone stellar like my daughter to teach there, right?</p>

<p>Right! Sigh.</p>

<p>May I echo Bizymom's comment.</p>

<p>I too have a daughter who has always wanted to teach. Yet frequently adults, including some teachers, would question her as to why such a bright child would only want to be a teacher. When she took four AP classes her senior year, classmates wondered why she wanted to work that hard "when you don't need that stuff to teach." </p>

<p>Having said that, though, Daughter found education classes at her well rated, private mid-west university "mind-numbing." Her original plan was a degree in elementary education with a middle school concentration. That quickly changed to an English major with middle school and secondary education endoresements. She is much happier now that she has more challanging coursework. Her comment to me was that the caliber of reading/assignments/class discussions taking place in her literature classes is what she really expected in college.</p>

<p>One other comment - and this is only my daughter's opinion - is that she feels the quality of the students in her education classes is not as high as in the other majors. She thought less than half are bright students enthused about teaching. The rest are students who wanted an easy major or who couldn't decide what else to do.</p>