Every four years, candidates for the presidency tout their plans on how they are going to fix the problems of education. One of the many educational problems that some states face is teacher shortages, particularly in the areas of science and math. One way that some areas have dealt with these shortages is by providing a fast track towards teacher certification for individuals who are coming from different fields. For example, an engineer might decide to become a teacher and is given a different path towards certification than a student just finishing up their undergraduate degree. The question then becomes, is this a successful model for creating new teachers?
The following items look at why it is so important for all teachers to have effective teacher training programs. The sad truth is that not all programs are created equal. To provide new teachers with the greatest chance of success, they need to have completed a teacher preparation program that provides them with knowledge, experience, and guidance. When this does not happen, we not only risk teachers leaving the profession quickly, but more importantly we risk the education of entire classes of students.
1. Helps Prevent FailureNew teachers have many challenges that they face each day. Effective teacher training helps prepare new teachers for these challenges. While teacher training and student teaching won't completely prepare new teachers for every issue they will face, it can help them feel more confident about many common problems that arise for teachers each day. Without this background, teachers might feel like failures and eventually give up.
2. Helps Avoid Teacher Burnout
Effective teacher training programs will address teacher burnout
. First, it helps new teachers to understand what can lead to teacher burnout
. In some cases, this is just the stress of daily teaching. However, it can also be caused by not varying the information and methods of teaching enough. Teacher training programs that focus on particular subject areas like social studies
. or mathematics
can help students learn about different ways in which a subject can be presented.
3. Provides an Understanding of the Benchmarks for AchievementMany inexperienced teachers focus on getting students to memorize and regurgitate success. However, does this show true student achievement? Without a background to what does and does not constitute authentic student learning, new teachers sometimes create lessons that don't lead to the results they were expecting. However, teacher preparation programs can help students understand how to find and apply effective benchmarks for student achievement.
4. Provides Supported Practice in a Controlled EnvironmentWhen it comes to teaching, reading a book is not enough. Even hearing teachers talk about teaching methods is not enough. New teachers need practice teaching combined with effective mentoring in order to help them understand what is required from them in their new position. This happens through student teaching in the classroom setting. However, it is imperative that student teachers are placed in appropriate classes that meet their interests. Further, the supervising teacher must be involved and provide feedback each day to help student teachers learn.
5. Stops Costly Experimenting on Students
While all teachers experiment with new lessons and techniques from time to time, teachers without proper training will often try things that education might have taught them would not work. This experimenting comes at a cost in terms of student learning. As most teachers know, it is very easy to lose your students at the beginning of a term. If you do exhibit competence, fairness
, and consistency from the beginning, you risk losing respect and interest. The ultimate cost of this failure is in what the student will not achieve in the classroom.