How’s Teaching? (#2)

No one would argue that we desperately need more qualified teachers. But how do you attract the best candidates? How do you teach teachers how to teach? This morning on NPR I heard THIS story about a program in Boston teaching teachers like med school teaches doctors. Of course you can’t just read about teaching or talk about teaching to know how to do it, you have to actually DO it. But what if you could discuss it with people who know how? What if you did this every day?

“why can’t schools be more like teaching hospitals with seasoned teachers, just like seasoned doctors, responsible for the induction and training of the next generation of teachers?”

This “medical rounds” idea is the hot new idea in public schools these days. At my independent school, there is a lot of emphasis on teachers meeting together to learn from each other. Apparently we are the only independent school in the nation doing this. We call it “PLCs” or Professional Learning Communities. Teachers of the same discipline meet to discuss “best practices” and “essential learnings” for the course. Today my group is writing a proposal for a possibility of becoming a formal PLC next year. We would get a reduced course load, and we would meet together 4 times a week with specific goals in mind. Some possible questions are…

“what should seventh graders KNOW about history?”

“how do we know if they’ve learned it?”

“what do we do if they don’t learn it?”

The idea is that this work is hard to do on our own, secluded in our respective classrooms. It’s so much better together, in a conversation, bringing in the best educators in the city together to think about these questions.

(Another interesting article about teaching is “What makes a teacher qualified?” a question everyone asks, but no one seems to be able to agree on the answer. Do advanced degrees really matter? What if the teacher is working on an online course during class time to complete the advanced degree?)

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4 responses to “How’s Teaching? (#2)

  1. I appreciate the likening of teacher training to residency for doctors. Being a good doctor is just as much (if not more) about practice and implementation as it is knowledge. Shouldn’t teaching be the same way?

  2. We are the only independent school in the nation taking advantage of the GIFT of PLCs? Damn, skippy.

    PLCs are revolutionary and life-giving in so many ways, but at the end of the day, it’s not about collaborating to think about what we teachers do in our classrooms, but rather what our KIDS are doing and thinking and learning…

    I’ll add my John Hancock to your proposal any day, missy…

  3. This sounds like a better-organized and more supportive student teaching experience – a great program for those making a career change! I think a key difference here is that the teachers are coming from other careers. With no disrespect to teachers coming straight out of college, we all know that first job is tough, whether it’s a teaching job or an office job or something else entirely. Teachers coming to education as a second career have a little perspective on what’s out there, and they’ve gotten over that shocking phase of life known as your first year out of college. Obviously, I am biased here. But I do think it can be a contributing factor to high attrition rates in young teachers. We have PLCs, too, and I think it’s a great support system for new teachers and continuing ed for veterans!

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