Monday, March 08, 2010

Are teachers born or made? Discuss.

Today is my second blogiversary. Not only am I excited to still be writing regularly, but I'm also thrilled to still have some readers out here. So thanks for caring enough to have me on your Reader.

I was sent this link today, and since most of you are teachers (either paid or otherwise) I thought I'd share. It's a 9 pager, so you grad students may feel like it's a homework assignment; it's not, but I am interested in what you all think. Feel free to discuss.

Building a Better Teacher

(For the record, that's the first time I've ever changed the title to a link. Why not on my blogiversary?)


Jan said...

I picked that article up this morning and really very best enjoyed reading it. I have always know that the very best teachers come with the gift of teaching, just as the best musicians do and the best architects do etc. But those gifts need to honed with hard work and effort as well. And the skills these teachers have can be taught to other who want to teach and are willing to learn.
Keep up your very good work.

hoyden said...

I've lived this. I live this. The most consistent comment in my master's cohort was that we weren't being prepared for the realities of the classroom. I was fortunate enough to get a great mentor teacher (I awarded him the 2006 CT of Year Award three times -- yes, that's three awards in one year), but so many of my peers ended up with old, bitter, or over-worked (or all three) mentors who were just looking for a little free labor. (Let's forget for a moment that I taught for free AND had to pay tuition, unlike other graduate programs where you are given grants to cover tuition for all the teaching/research assisting that you do. What value does our society place on teachers?)

And now, on the front lines, I am constantly judged on things that I was never taught to do. I still talk to my first mentor, but he's far, far away. My current mentors are lacking in so many ways. They certainly have done a poor job of articulating any of the actual "how-tos" of teaching. So, I struggle on my own to figure it out -- which is hardly effective for me or my students. One other mentor (not officially mine) said it took her about 15 years to work out classroom management. Fifteen years! Certainly, with better training, we can cut that down.

And teaching is hard and does require specific skills. It might be the most difficult thing I've ever done. Maybe it's just that so much in academia came easy to me, but maybe we've just worked out how to teach book-learning better than we teach teaching.

However frustrating my day-to-day life is, I can see my own improvement. I am heartened that education professionals are tackling this problem. I propose a new initiative: leave no teachers behind.

P.S. My verification word is "nobout" as in teachers are made, no doubt 'bout it!