Future-focused teacher education 33/365?

Last week Claire Amos wondered if New Zealand’s Graduating Teacher Standards were future-focused enough. Having come to know the standards well both through being a fairly recent graduate and having used the standards as framework for my eportfolio, I can say the standards need a tweak but it is the delivery of the standards that are a problem.

Aside from a mention in one of the standards of ‘demonstrates a level of proficiency in ICT relevant to their role’ the standards could easily be applied to someone teaching in a traditional school where using email meets this part of the standards to a future-focused modern learning environment.

So what does a modern teacher look like? I love this infographic from @wayfaringpath that demonstrates a number of the dispositions that we should be developing in our student teachers that the Graduate Teaching Standards could be more explicit about.

Profile of a modern teacher created by Reid Wilson used under a creative commons licence.

So what needs to be changed in the current Graduating Teacher Standards?

Embrace change in teaching practice a student teacher’s education is out of date before they’ve taught a class. They need to demonstrate not only that they can reflect critically on their practice but that they can build up their own networks of professional learning to develop their teaching.

Manage relationships effectively with other teachers and the wider community to promote student learning – Teachers who teach in their own isolated cell are depriving their students of opportunities for learning and growth. More teachers are going to be working in modern learning environments. Teachers need to be adept at developing links between the wider community and school to tap into expertise.

Integrates ICT effectively to promote student learning I would hope that the phrase ICT is redundant from the standards in a few years. But the ‘demonstrates a level of proficiency in ICT relevant to their role’ allows student teachers to meet this standard by simply turning on the electronic whiteboard.

However tweaking the graduating teacher standards are not going to promote future-focused learning when our provision of teacher education is firmly stuck in analogue mode.

What to do?

Ditch those forms and checklists. I’ve ranted before about how my experience of documenting my learning journey as a student teacher was more a bureaucratic process of filling in forms than anything meaningful. Future focused teachers need to think creatively so why not get students to find their own ways to document their own personalised learning journey and tag effectively.

Be more selective in mentors and develop them – From what I can glean associate teachers basically need to have full registration and be willing to have a student teacher in their class. Why aren’t teacher education providers more selective about this? Not every teacher has the skills to be an associate teacher yet they are the most important people in a student teacher’s learning journey. How much time and support is given to associate teachers to help them learn how to develop in their role as mentors? Could they follow the student teacher through to full registration?

Online courses for part of the programme – The first step to knowing how to teach is to learn. My experience as an online learner helped me to develop my online learning environment. Less time on campus opens up possibilities for teacher education to be more in tune with the school calendar than the university one. There could also be online mentors out there to help student teachers too.

More focus on time in schools. Much as I loathe some aspects of the TeachFirstNZ programme, I think the premise that old school lectures and exams are not the way we should be educating our future teachers is a good one. The post-graduate primary programme in particular suffers from trying to jam too much content into too little time and the lack of opportunity for supervised practice suffers as a result. I had two seven week blocks and only part of that was full control. Student teachers need to be in school for the first term of a school year to see how learning relationships are developed and maintained. 

Modern learning environments – Of all the groups to benefit from modern learning environments, students and beginning teachers have the most to gain. They get to see experienced teachers in action and have experienced teachers see them. There is nothing more isolating than those first few weeks as a teacher when you realise that it’s just you and a class full of kids and you have no idea what you are doing.

Too many teaching programmes. Lets focus on quality and a good experience for student teachers. Paying a liveable allowance so that students concentrate on learning to be an effective teacher is critical. No student teacher should be working when they are on teaching experience.  It is irrational that the government continues to fund programmes that churn out graduates into an over-saturated teaching market. Teaching is one of the few sectors where you can reasonably predict based on births and immigration rates the workforce needs. Why aren’t we using this to develop our workforce?

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4 thoughts on “Future-focused teacher education 33/365?

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  1. This blog sums what I always think about future-focused teachers education. I have taken this year off to learn more about teaching in my own time. I am only 10 weeks of practicum away from graduating but I chose to take this year off as I realised I am not yet ready to teach my own class. The university has not prepared me for the learning environment as they should be. After three years of study I couldn’t believe that I am not as ready as I thought I would be in three years. It scared me to death. My last two practicums were not anything near effective in terms of enabling me to learn and grow as a teacher. All I did was rushed through the university requirements and followed exactly what my AT wanted. I didn’t have the opportunity to learn but I only copied my AT without knowing why. Both my ATs were not helpful at all and all they wanted was a teacher-aid. I felt like a teacher-aid more than a student teacher and I can not agree more with you when you say be more selective in mentors. Thank you for your blog. I hope the future teacher training courses would be much more effective than the ones available now.

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    1. Hi Lina
      Sorry to hear that your practicums weren’t what you thought they would be. I’m wondering have you talked to anyone at your university about your concerns. Often they will switch out Associate Teachers if they aren’t working for the student. A good lesson to keep in mine when you become a PRT and have a mentor teacher. In the end I don’t think anyone is ever really prepared to be a teacher. In fact I’d go so far as to say the minute you know everything you need to know it’s time to find something else to do.

      Stephanie

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      1. Hi Stephanie, thanks for the reply

        I could have talked to the university about my issues but I didn’t want to sound unprofessional so I kept it to myself and worked hard and passed the practicum. Despite the fact that I have passed I don’t feel I got much out of any of my practicms in terms of professional growth. About your last sentences I absolutely agree with you but I think I need to be a bit more prepared and learn the things I missed out on practicum by volunteering in a school while I am away from uni for a year.

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