it really bothers me how people who are not trained to be teachers get first priority in teach for america. this is a program i have wanted to do for awhile and it is nearly impossible for actual teachers-in-training to work with this. meanwhile, scientists, business majors, and other obscure majors who have no teaching experience almost always get accepted.and they wonder why their “teachers” drop out…
Teach for America is giving its teachers mini-headsets so that they can get a classroom assist when the going gets tough. Pretend we made a football joke.
Teachers-in-training will have their very own personal angel to discreetly coach them through new lesson plans, with the same ear-bud wiring that feeds live information to NFL coaches. Teach for America is hoping that private coaching will speed up the painstakingly slow process of teacher development, allowing teachers to get both tailored instruction and the experience of being at the head of the classroom, without risking a disaster for students.
“Once a teacher understands what it feels like to be successful, it takes root immediately,” Monica Jordan, coordinator of teacher professional development in Memphis City Schools,told Education Week.
The experimental group of teachers is willing, if hesitant. “I thought, what if they say something in my ear and I lose my train of thought?” said algebra teacher Cynthia Law. “And then I thought, so what if I lose my train of thought, I’ll figure it out,” Law continued, confidently, “I’m not a play-it-safe person. I’m willing for my kids’ sake to look foolish.”
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded technology is currently just used with an expert companion in a nearby room, but could easily be done from anywhere in the world.
Conceivably, the technology could allow even more exciting (and controversial) applications. For instance, Indian PhDs could one day be remote coaching AP calculus teachers, especially in cash-strapped schools forced to fill classes with unprepared teachers. This is especially likely since American educators have long wanted to use the successful math curricula of South Asian countries but lack the proper training.
Or, you know, we could just give teachers proper training.
All new teachers struggle in their classrooms. However, TFA knows that it has very specific issues with its teachers being unprepared to handle their classrooms and their curriculum. This, of course, has everything to do with the fact that TFA’s new teachers get a whopping 5 weeks of training, which isn’t nearly enough to prepare its teachers for a year of teaching in the classroom. This is one of the top reasons why TFA teachers do not stay in the program.
The problem with long-distance experts who aren’t in the classroom is that while they can tell you what to do with regards to following the curriculum, they probably won’t actually be able to help you teach. And if you’re having to rely on someone sitting in another room somewhere listening in on you all day long so that you can teach the material you are supposed to be able to teach, maybe you should be taken out of the classroom and the expert should be put in.
Really, though, we should be investing in education and especially in teachers. Ensure they get the training they need to take care of their classrooms. Pay them enough that the best and the brightest want to stay in the field. And please, please, please stop trying to put bandaids on public education with outsourced experts and 20-somethings with zero background in education who are just looking for something cool to put on their resumes.
You know what will really do wonders for our education system? GOOD. TEACHERS.