Dave Saba of DoE: Dave on Ed fame examined the Center for American Progress report on Alternative Teacher Certification possibilities. In response to his post, I commented that not only are alternative methods of teacher credentialing a must, the development of better new teacher supports must also follow suit. Here is my comment:
The fact is that many teacher credential programs are antiquated, tedious, and off-target. I, for one, went through a program where my Ed Psychology Prof just read us his screenplay for a semester, where the Teaching Mathematics teacher had only taught 1 full year 30 years ago, and there were no courses on classroom management. I learned it all on the job, building up resentment for the wasted money and time that I previously had to log into my seat at the University when, in fact, my real education was occurring in my own classroom and working collaboratively with teacher mentors who shared my philosophies on teaching.
It is frustrating to think of the amazingly qualified, want-to-become teachers who shy away from the workload associated with the credentialing process. It is also frustrating to think of the mediocre candidates who do go through this nation’s programs and who walk away with a credential, but who are not swayed from entering into the profession because they have successfully attended the classes.
We need to offer alternatives in order to draw folks with specific skills into the classrooms. We need people to actually entertain teaching as a second or third or fourth career, to pass on what they know and have learned in life, to bring more texture to our teaching pool, and to bring more perspectives to our existing curriculum.
But what mother of three with a law degree or early-retiring business exec is going to tackle the tedium and subjectively irrational procedures affiliated with teacher credential programs? Experience in life makes you less likely to put up with time wasters.
Also, you mention a very good point: “the critical element in solving the shortage is measuring competencies rather than credentials to determine who gets into the classroom as long as it is followed by strong support.” This strong support is a key element in any new teacher’s success. But the programs out there today merely add to a new teacher’s burdens. See my earlier post, “New Teacher Programs: Their Plate is Already Full.”
Mentoring is key, but currently even a mentor’s hands are tied when it comes to taking things off a new teacher’s plate so that they may focus on what they came to do – to teach.
Thank you again for your post, and I hope that we are on the road to alternative programs and more support for new generations (both young and old) of teachers.