Imagine you’re a studying to be a teacher, and on the first day of the new semester, the U.S. Secretary of Education arrives to ask your opinions about the future of the teaching profession.
That’s what happened at Keene State College in New Hampshire on Monday’s evening stop on the “Courage in the Classroom” bus tour.
During the discussion, Secretary Duncan had more questions than answers for the class of that included undergraduates preparing to be teachers and current teachers working toward a master’s degree.
How do we recruit one million new teachers over the next four years?
How do we retain them in the profession?
How do we improve the way we prepare teachers?
Will better preparation programs lead to higher retention rates because teachers feel better prepared for success in the classroom?
One current teacher said that teacher preparation programs should focus on classroom-based experiences rather than philosophical discussions.
So many of a teacher’s daily tasks—such as managing a classroom, working with parents, and planning lessons—are best learned by doing the work yourself or watching an experienced professional, said Denis Jobin, who teaches English learners in Milford, N.H.
“You can talk about those things, but it’s interactive to learn them,” Jobin said.
Secretary Duncan agreed that teacher colleges need to find ways to integrate real-life teaching experiences into their preparation programs.
But he believes that the larger challenge is to improve the status of the profession so that teachers feel respected and valued.
“Teaching must be a much more revered profession,” he told the group. “Teachers haven’t been revered for a while.”
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