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Feb 1, 2011

Ideal Teacher Preparation

When we asked the members of the Teacher Leaders Network to brainstorm about an ideal teacher-preparation and teacher-induction program, here's what they imagined:

• A coherent system that offers both college-age teaching aspirants and mid-career switchers in-depth opportunities to learn to teach -- not separate university coursework and school district induction programs, but teacher academies where school and university faculty members team up to teach a range of topics, from research-based literacy strategies and learning theory to interdisciplinary concepts in the sciences and the humanities to managing a classroom filled with high-energy adolescents. Joint university-school budgets would leverage scarce resources and push education-school faculty and K-12 teachers to work more closely with each other.

• These courses and workshops would be grounded in what prospective and new teachers are experiencing in their internships and residencies. For example, at Chicago's Academy for Urban School Leadership, two interns are assigned to team-teach with a master teacher, and graduate-level teacher-education coursework is integrated with their daily teaching so they can immediately apply their new knowledge and skills.

• Every apprentice would learn how to teach in diverse communities and work effectively with parents and families. For example, Center X, at the University of California at Los Angeles (see "Two Programs That Work," in the sidebar below), requires its teacher-education students to intern in Los Angeles-area schools with racially, culturally, and linguistically diverse low-income student populations. The two-year program places future teachers in cohorts and offers unique experiences in both teaching and community activism.

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