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Some additional considerations

Posted By: Michael Malone on April 9, 2003
I read Dr. Baines' article with both interest and dismay. As a faculty member in early childhood education I am fully aware of and have experienced the negative attitudes/perceptions (the state in which I live and work has one of the poorest track records for funding higher education in the country ... even our students question the importance of what we have to share with them in the university classroom...but that may be another topic). I wanted to share with others a handout that I share with my students when I discuss professional development, how education is viewed, and what I believe they need to consider/do to raise they bar as a professional educator. As I tell my students, the picture is not pretty and we can choose either to live either under these circumstamces or rise above them (understanding also that the road leading us over the circumstances is uphill with many challenges). The resources from which the material was drawn are listed at the end:

Facts, Comments, and Viewpoints to Consider:

•Over 2 million teachers needed in next 10 years.
•With 1 out of 5 children living in poverty & growing diversity, teachers are being required to broaden their skills.
•Standards for teachers will be raised and "knowledge & skills-based pay" likely.
•Despite higher reading, math, ACT, & SAT scores, many children do not have basic skills.
•Too few quality teachers to teach the children.
•The Secretary called upon schools to keep a strong focus on the early years, through early childhood initiatives, reduced class size, & a focus on reading -- all while working with parents.
•Only 1 in 5 teachers feels "very well prepared" to work in a modern classroom.
•Overall, less than half of American teachers reported feeling "very well prepared" to meet many of the challenges facing the nation's public school classrooms including work with technology, students with special needs, and students from diverse cultural backgrounds.
•Teachers rarely read research and, if they do, they rarely see the relevance of the work to their classroom.
•Teachers are typically isolated from one another in their teaching and rely on intuition, common sense, experience, and habit rather than empirically derived strategies.
•Teacher attitudes, beliefs, experiences, and knowledge all strongly effect how, and to what degree, instructional innovations are implemented in classrooms.
•The efficacy of instructional innovations is a function of teacher endorsement, willingness to believe in the approach, and knowledge of how to implement the approach.
•Historically, a lack of confidence in teacher ability has existed (as evidenced by the emergence of “teacher-proof” curricula and the statement that “teachers don’t have enough direction and that they’re basically lazy and slothful” offered by a representative of the U.S. Dept. of Education).
•Students in Education have the lowest college entrance scores and the highest grades in universities.
•Teacher educators don’t care about quality.
•Colleges of Education are not capable of creating rigorous programs.
•We should give up on Colleges of Education and develop rigorous and intense programs (perhaps 6-8 week programs) that would provide smart people with college degrees with the basics on classroom survival.
•Teacher education programs fail to attract quality candidates.
•Teacher training programs do not necessarily produce graduates with superior teaching skills.
•Teacher education programs maintain low standards and high barriers.

▸Annual State of American Education Address: New Challenges, A New Resolve; Moving American Education into the 21st Century
▸National Center for Education Statistics Report
▸Teacher Quality: A Report on the Preparation and Qualifications of Public School Teachers
▸Literature Review from the Research Instructional Lead Teacher Model Federal Grant
▸Team Building for School Change: Equipping Teachers for New Roles
▸Testimony provided to the House Subcommittee on Education
▸The Secretary’s Annual Report on Teacher Quality
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 Some additional considerations by Michael Malone on April 9, 2003
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