Friday, May 14, 2010

A Question

I had a conversation on Twitter yesterday where I was discussing with two other teachers how pre-service teachers should be educated. Basically we were discussing when pre-service teachers should have classes on education theory, how much time they should practice teaching before they were given their own classroom, and how veteran teachers should assist new teachers.

For example I argued that pre-service teachers need much more time working in a classroom with a veteran teacher than the usual 8-10 weeks. I really think they should have two years of team teaching with a vet and they should take theory classes after those two years. I think the theory makes much more sense after having experience.

So, my question to you pre-service teachers is, "What would you prefer?"


  1. I honestly have never thought about it; however, I do think it would make more sense to teach and then take theory. We would have already experienced what we are learning, and we could better understand the theory.

  2. No problem... I haven't started my theory classes, but I know that two days during the week we actually go to a middle or high school, and the other days we are in theory classes. The next semester we actually do the student teaching. Hopefully, this will prepare us well enough.

  3. Hey, all! Great question Mr. C.

    I have had my 4 basic education courses (Ed Psych, Special Ed Intro, Diversity in Ed, and Tech in Ed) and have found them to be, for the most part, an introduction at best. I wish the Ed. Psych. had a little more to offer, but the others were well done, in my opinion. At USA, we really don't get into the classroom until our second to last semester and then the final semester is student teaching without coursework. My Diversity in Ed. teacher did require us to perform 15 hours in two different schools, with at least one with a low income, high minority demographic. We could only have 4 hours of observation and the rest had to be work. We submitted a log of our time and a reflection paper. I was one of the fortunate students to have found super terrific teachers to learn from during that time. My experiences involved working with students one-on-one, a small bit of leading the class, and then (my least favorite, but a big part of the job) I spent four hours filing papers. Good lessons came from all of it, in fact just too much to mention. My lesson the filing was to figure out how to minimize that aspect. I was glad to see and do what I did.

    That time in the classroom was PRICELESS! I wish I had it earlier and more consistently in the program. There are a couple of reasons for that. One is, that more exposure to teacher requirements and professional example would develop our professional maturity, while in a position to make mistakes that wouldn't be detrimental to the education of the students or our career. The second is, there's nothing like on the job training. Finally, being in the classroom earlier than later may help students decide if teaching is really their calling or not.

    I like the introduction to the theory, and would like to see a more practical curriculum where the theory is applied. In both of my degrees, the professors that brought the most to the students were those that had been in the field. So then, I agree with Mr. C's idea for mentoring with a veteran teacher.

    There is also room for education major preparation in our major classes. Being a Secondary Ed/Math Major, we are required to take many upper level math classes. The enrollment is generally small for these with the majority of students as Secondary Ed/Math students. I had a math professor this semester that took the time to give us opportunities to develop as teachers. We had times where we had to develop our homework solutions, make an appointment to see him and then present them to him on the board with explanation. It was this semester where I realized how difficult it is to present logically, legibly and concretely to an audience on a chalk board. I thanked him both times we had to do this, as it was one of the most valuable lessons for me to skin my knee on, as it will be a daily part of my job. This is the kind of stuff we need to be learning.

    I am in absolute agreement that much more time in the classroom is key. I currently tutor two middle school math students that are very different, which has given me great insight into middle school students, how to teach techniques, motivate, use different approaches, and adapting my preparation to variable levels of talent. Communicating with parents, the teacher and student has also been a great experience.

    And, as has been said before, I find great value to the insight of teachers like Mr. C., Dr. Strange, Mr. McClung, Drs. Feldvoss and Pillen (of the USA Math Department) etc. An active PLN (Personal Learning Network) is also a great pre-service teacher tool. It gets me thinking about what and how my classroom may look like in a little bit.

    Great stuff!! This is exactly what I hoped to get out of the Alumni Blog.

    Mr. C - Did you make that question mark? If so, how did you capture it?

  4. I personally learn best from both aspects. I enjoy being in a classroom, theory classes, and learning. I also learn by hands on, which for teaching is probably best. Student teaching allows us to put what we have discussed in our theory classes to the test! I am just now starting my main classes, so I am very excited to see what I will be learning and how I am going to do things. I do like that we get to observe and teaching a little right before they throw us out there for student teaching.

  5. @Jackie I made it in paint with the spray can and then screen captured it. I spent 5 minutes looking for a picture of one before it occurred to me to do it myself.

  6. This discussion is what learning is all about - a community of learners. Thanks everyone!

    Now a bit about theory and practice. My argument is you learn everything by doing. But doing must have a context. You must be able and interested in understanding your context. As Mr. C knows so well, and practices religiously, reflection - honest, probing self reflection with assistance from more experienced practitioners - provides that context. In essence, you are building your own theories through practice and reflection. Being old fashioned (not to mention old), I highly recommend a book:the Reflective Practitioner; How Professionals Think in Action by Donald A. Schön. Practice, reflection and participation in a learning community creates the theoretical understandings that enable an enriched practice which is what we are all about.

    Wow! What a semester! Keep it up!