Reflections from a teacher educator, Part 1

Tonight was officially the last class of the semester teaching my first math methods course. I have lots of feelings about this... a sense of accomplishment and relief among them. It was a hard semester, y'all. I poured my heart and soul into these 34 (34!!!) men and women who are on their way to becoming teachers, and I am so proud of *most* of how it all played out.  Overall, I feel really positive about how I organized and implemented the course, but like many professionals, I tend to have some symptoms of imposter syndrome alongside the feelings of pride and excitement. The first time one of my students called me Professor I almost ugly-laughed right in his face - me!? A professor?! Surely I'm not important enough to be called that. But as I consider the reflections my students shared with me this afternoon in a finals week fro-yo shop office hours session, my feelings of inadequacy are slowly subsiding as they are replaced with a bit of disappointment... not in myself or my students, but in the "systems" that these new teachers are coming out of and into. If we want to do better for our K-12 students, we have to do better for those entering the teaching profession. I don't think that's an overly bold statement - I think it's a non-negotiable. I want to be brave with this conversation, but for now, I'm going to be vague and would appreciate your input/feedback/thoughts. The "we" I refer to in the thoughts below are everyone associated with supporting pre-service teachers.

Thought #1: We harp on the importance of coherence across grade levels in our standards, so we must support coherence within our teacher preparation programs.

Thought #2: If we're going to expect pre-service teachers to engage students using multiple instructional models and strategies, we need to engage them in those models and strategies in a meaningful way, not just read about or talk about them.

Thought #3: We must address the issues associated with "teaching the way we are taught" head on. Without being introduced to an alternative, new teachers will default to this.

Thought #4: We need to have cross-curricular conversations in teacher preparation programs about things like growth mindset, classroom management (this conversation CANNOT just happen in the Classroom Management course), standards, curriculum, frameworks (thinking about state/province level resources here), etc; especially in programs for multiple-subject teachers (K-8 in California).

Thought #5: We must empower new teachers to be the change that our students need. We still have so much work to do to make shift happen in schools, and our newest teachers should be leading that charge. Many still cite the swinging pendulum as a reason not to do things differently, but our pre-service teachers should know what's at stake and feel prepared to stand up for themselves and students.

I learned so much from teaching this course. Looking forward to reflecting more deeply on this in Part 2 later this week.


Comments

  1. Congratulations! it's a big deal to teach a course for teachers and you did it. Your reflections ring true to me for sure. I've been at it for 17 years now and I think our program has developed a lot but it's in small steps. Keep reaching out to colleagues to work on these issues, raise them as ones worthy of discussion. I was sad in a seminar I taught tonight when 3 of 4 practicing teachers in the class said they don't ever meet with the colleagues in their school to talk professionally about their math teaching. Ugh. We need our institutions to be better organized for adult learning.

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    1. Thank you Elham! I've learned so much this semester and it has really helped me shift perspective on how I develop and implement PD. I hope the conversations at my institution open up and there can be some coherence established within and between subject matter courses. Our teacher candidates deserve this!

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