What is wrong with teacher education.

What is wrong with teacher education for so many years that it has not helped teachers with what they really need?

  1. Most teacher education curricula taught in our nation’s colleges are loaded with too much abstract theory and too little realistic practical help. Courses in the history and philosophy of education, learning theory, and child development do help reframe teachers’ perceptions of students’ learning, but they do little to help teachers with their priority need: what to actually do in the classroom on the spot. There is a training gap between giving teachers informed perceptions, and actually helping them with what specifically to do for over 6 hours a day, 180 days a year. Even the usefulness of subject methods courses only help get across the subject matter, IF the teacher can control his class. Teachers want effective classroom management to be a priority in their education. It is not.
  2. This is because teachers have little to no say regarding the courses they must take. Instead, professors of education have most of this power. And, most education professors tend to select theoretical courses they are comfortable teaching, rather than teach to the priority of what their students need. In many institutions, if the course offerings were more about what teachers really needed, many of these too theoretical professors would be out of a job. Many cannot teach the priority of what these teachers need. Professors vote for curricula that more secures their jobs, than that which would really help the jobs of those they are supposed to help. Some education professors, assigned to train K-12 teachers, would, themselves, fall apart in front of a real K-12 classroom.
  3. Teachers are handcuffed to this professorial-chosen curriculum in order to get college credit, to get salary increments. They dare not buck the system or ask too many reality questions in their education classes that are “off the ivory tower curriculum” for fear of getting a low grade, no credit, and, thus, no salary raise.
  4. Why don’t we have more education professors who can teach the priorities of classroom management? Because their training is too conceptual. Unfortunately, teaching (and classroom management) is not just conceptual. Instead:
  5. It is a Performance Art. It is not like learning chemistry formulas. Nor is it like learning what a car needs and then fixing it, no matter how good the (lesson) plan. It is also not like learning Math concepts and then plugging them in.Instead: teaching is more like learning the game of tennis: first, how it is played; then actually practicing how to play it, with coaching; then, learning the strokes; until these become instinctive; and finally performing these skills interactively, with other players, on the spot.Yes, it involves learning to reframe one’s perceptions, as does a trained counselor listening to his clients; thus, educational psychology is useful. But, like the counselor, one must learn the appropriate responses, how to use one’s personality, one’s authentic responses in order to help. Notice: “responses”, “how to useā€¦” performing!

    Or, teaching is more like playing jazz piano: where you learn concepts, practice reactions (e.g., learn to hear the chords), and then perform these responses spontaneously, interacting with the other musicians in such a way that you play with honest feeling in order to make “music” together.

    Or, it is like learning lion taming! where you learn and practice spontaneous decisions, using your feelings, personality, intuition to deliver the appropriate, correct reactions when confronted with the myriad of responses of those to be trained – when that door opens, without having too much time to think.

  6. Training teachers in this Performance Art is very important because without it, or with just theories for reframing perceptions, teachers will fall back into just teaching the way they were taught! And, some of these teachers have had some really bad teachers, and/or parents.
  7. Since teaching is a Performance Art, then we must face the uncomfortable fact that the most powerful tool in the classroom is not, e.g. the blackboard or even the computer, but the teacher’s personality. That is why Johnny can be a brat in period 3, then an angel in period 4. He did not change when the bell rang, his teacher did!
  8. This is an uncomfortable fact for some because this means that good teacher training requires teachers to look at their feelings, not just their attainment of cognitive knowledge, or methods. A math teacher who knows his math, even many good methods for teaching it, still falls apart if he cannot manage his class. And he cannot if his personality’s interactive-responses, his performance, creates an adversarial relationship with his students.

by Howard Seeman, PhD.

Read more @ http://www.classroommanagementonline.com/what.html

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