Day 60 (of 185) what do teacher training programs need to teach….?
I had the opportunity to join a Teacher Education Advisory Committee at Thompson Rivers University. I have had the opportunity to work with Teacher Candidates at a variety of grade levels (and as a teacher as well as a principal).
I was happy to share that I have seen recent Teacher Candidates coming in with a great set of skills and understanding of key concepts such as Assessment For Learning. Other groups shared that they were likewise impressed with the both the knowledge and professionalism and work ethic of candidates.
But then I was asked: what would I suggest….
So….I have found that university-ally (not specific to TRU but from all university’s training future teachers) that the preparedness of people joining the education system needs a better understanding of how they will (because they will….) work with learners with unique mental wellness issues.
This is not a secondary, middle school or even “just” an elementary issue. It is a K-12 issue….and I’m sure that TRU (and other universities) would say it is a K-? concern. But not seeing mental wellness issues as behaviour issues that is to be “managed” is important. An understanding that sadness is not depression and while anxiety is important (it keeps us alive!) too much can be very difficult to work with.
(Subtle plug for my blog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-JpBJal3F8 )
I think I was happy with the response as I pointed out one of my ongoing “rants” – we need the adults to help the students create conditions where they can learn. Because if students are mentally prepared to learn…they will help teacher candidates be successful in learning how to teach! But it’s not about “managing” the students, it’s knowing how to interrelate and be “mindful” about how to support (but not enable) learners in K-12!
I even had the opportunity to share on “how to deal with new assessment matters to get students into university” – and I’ve experienced universities accessing alumni (as UBC did with me) to help identify whether or not some learners on non-traditional paths (aka “bad/low” letter grades) would succeed at university. I know (and am happy to share) that universities also want improved 4-year graduation rates. In theory it may make sense that universities would like students to spend decades there…but in practice, that just adds more and more pressure onto specific first and second year schools. We don’t need good-test takers to struggle beyond high school….we need students to thrive as Learners (not memory regurgitates) at all levels of schooling.
But I really liked the mindset push for thinking education as K-16….and know that many would be saying “what about the early years learners that are in our schools….!”
And of course the “ongoing work” around AFL – Assessment For Learning – and how many are aware of it as a term (but may not connect the acronym with the words) but not necessarily the components within:
- Clear learning intentions (can students tell me why they are learning what they are learning when I pop into the classroom)
- Exemplars (always tricky when piloting new curriculum)
- Questions (this has led me to explore Genishour, Self Organized Learning Environments, etc)
- Timely Descriptive Feedback (which can’t be done in 3x a year report cards…but regularly updated eportfolios…..just sayin’…)
- Peer & Self Assessment (which I confess to still struggle with – I can often get students be reflective while with me, but I haven’t seen a lot of good transfer of this skill to other subjects/years)
- Practice and Reflection (we can’t average pre-learning activities with what was learned by the end…because in theory that should be 0 to 100 and with an average of 50…..)
And of course, AFL introductions only started about 12 years ago…..sigh….. https://technolandy.wordpress.com/2016/04/28/day-144-of-183-reflecting-on-assessment-for-learning/
It’s fun thinking about what teacher candidates need – but as I have cautioned some….schools today are (often?) doing different than yesterday….and tomorrow should be different(iated) even more!