The system used to train teachers hasn’t changed much over
the past twenty years (maybe even longer, but I feel confident about twenty
years). But first, let’s look at teachers.
Teachers are some of greatest people on the planet. Many of the teachers I know
love people. Teachers have qualities that other people don’t have – fulfillment
from seeing others succeed despite serious threats to your own manifestation of
patience. To teach is to sacrifice.
But what enables teachers is also disabling. Being people
persons hampers their ability to take hard looks at the system, themselves, and
each other. The result is a routine of getting though each day much like you
did the year before. This serves a great majority of students.
Unfortunately, US culture tends to change at a faster pace.
So as teachers learned a style during their instructive days, the style they
learned probably isn’t as effective as it once was. I’m not trying to imply
that there isn’t training for teachers to improve that situation, but training
isn’t going to dent an approach that was reinforced by years of success.
So what you hear now is blame; mainly on parents. And there
is truth to that. But teaching has never been a job of ideal circumstances. Potential
teachers know that going in. I know there are many teachers that roll up their
sleeves and embrace the challenge. For instance, there is a group in the San
Francisco area called Reach. They use a team based system to improve teacher
performance and ultimately devotion to the job Reach. What I find great about this is
that the team based approach consistently prods improvement and idea sharing.
Innovative methods can spread much faster this way. Also, failures can be
learned from by many more people. Another byproduct of the team approach is the
limiting harm of loneness. And I mean this twofold: 1) There are X amount of other
people who are going through the same thing you are at the exact same time. 2) Having
uniform tests as a measure of success can undermine what the teacher tries to
achieve day in and day out from a learning perspective. The only people who
understand walking that line between a new teaching method and teaching to the
test are other teachers.
I’m an advocate for trying new ideas. The kids are and they
are changing because of it. The teachers should have that opportunity too. So take risks and hopefully, you have a team
to help you through them.