I was reading an article posted by a friend recently that was in the New York Times. The post talked about two books and how to create better teachers. I have been involved in this conversation a lot recently. How do we create more competent new teachers? How do we build a way to generate great teachers from the start.
I have thought about this quite a lot since my own journey into education was not as traditional as most. I came to education indirectly. I started in education as a permanent sub, and then an aide. I worked two and sometimes three jobs just to get my teaching certification through an online masters program.
One thing I felt was the greatest benefit for me, was having spent two full years in classrooms. I spent one year with two different teachers working as an aide. I learned so much from that experience, and even then, my first year was a challenge.
How we confront the question of creating better teachers is not simple. It is a complex multifaceted answer to which I cannot pretend to have the magic remedy. I big part for me is seeing the whole vision from beginning to end. During teaching preparation you do not usually see an entire classroom year from start to finish. Knowing what a vision for student learning is, the work to get there, and what it looks like when your time is up is a skill that is typically reserved for the best teachers.
I always had that vision, not because I was the best teacher (definitely not on day 1) but because I spent two different years in classrooms. Its a big help.
Another big help is becoming connected as an educator. We always talk about the building’s resources. Buildings are small, I want the world’s best resources whenever I can find them. If I have a question, I want twenty thousand smart people answering me, not twenty people who I happen to know and talk to often. Connecting helps teachers in ways they never could have dreamed.
Finally (and because I am starting to get a bit long for a single post and I could use some sleep tonight!) teachers need resources! We need to be able to watch someone else do it, see what they have done and learn to reflect on how it fits into our own practice. This is where I hope to take my newest collaborative project, The Teachergarten Podcast. The goal is to create a space for teachers to learn from some of the best and brightest around, but also to have them learn to reflect on what they are seeing. What am I watching? Was this good teaching? How can I incorporate this into my own practice? Without this crucial reflective piece, having all the resources in the world is not going to create a great teacher.
There are so many more things to say about this topic, but there are many more days to share!