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If I could reshape teacher education 2

Posted on: February 27, 2014


Yesterday I reflected on what I might do if I could change the way teachers are prepared. This is Part 2 of a few more scattered thoughts.

I think that every modern teacher needs some experience on Managing Expectations. These expectations are their own and those of their learners, the learners’ parents, and the teachers’ superiors. I think that teachers are sometimes blind-sided by unrealistic expectations from many quarters, so much so that some leave or remain unhappy because of them.

I also think that teachers need a strong dose of Valuing Values. I think most teachers join the profession for the right reasons, but they lose sight of what is important (the learners and learning) when grades and exams become the focus of schooling.

Valuing Values would be like the Group Endeavours in Service Learning (GESL) in NIE. It is an active reminder of who, why, and how we serve.

GESL is also a wonderful example of what I mean by an experience instead of a course. It actually straddles more than one university semester and causes disruptions in administrative thinking about what counts and how to count it.

Another critical experience is knowing the difference between Assessment and Evaluation. This would essentially be another name for assessment literacy. Teachers would not just learn about different ways of assessing and evaluating, but also when to use which strategy or tool.

For example, this experience would not just be about designing good multiple choice questions (MCQs). It would also be about deciding if MCQs are the right choice for assessment or if learners need to be assessed (given a number or letter grade) or also evaluated (given value or worth).

I think that preservice teachers also be taught How to Reflect. Here teachers learn how to create space to think, set aside time to reflect individually and collectively, and use different strategies to reflect.

I am not sure if this should be a core requirement or something like writing support. But I am leaning on the former because not everyone is naturally reflective.

While I might have described these elements of teacher preparation in the context of preservice teachers, it might be necessary to extend experiences like Managing Expectations into inservice learning. After all, it is only then that teachers learn to temper idealism with healthy dose of reality.

So these are just a few ideas that have floated in my mind over the last few years. I thought I should capture them in a net regardless of whether they were fully formed or not.

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