Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Teaching: eating their young

Great post over at Joanne Jacob's site on some TFA teachers struggling to survive. As is usually the case, people find their political point in the article and in the comments use that point to push their case instead of looking at the big picture presented.

Here are the key points as I see it:
  1. We don’t have enough teachers coming through standard routes (here)
  2. Therefore we have to have TFA and other recruitment programs or use long term subs with no training
  3. First year teaching is physically and mentally exhausting no matter what route you went though
  4. Adding course work and other requirements in addition to all the other first year teaching work can push someone over the edge.

Every time we partner with a state to set up an alternative certification program, the specter of course work inevitably comes up. We are constantly battling the desire for states to have their Alt Cert route become a regular route done at night after teaching all day. The TFA blogs point out that adding 3 hours of study on a Monday night after working all day in a school is cruel and unusual punishment.

The solution:

  1. Offer course work should only 1 or 2 Saturdays a month – max
  2. Require course work that research has shown to be effective in helping teachers in the classroom with student achievement - practical and useful

If you prove in #2 they need more course work then can fit on every other Saturday – then provide it during the summer between the first and second year of teaching.

We have to stop doing everything in our power to force out new teachers by making the job so overwhelming that no one could survive.

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