Professional Development Training:
Reform It Yesterday
Today's teacher education is lost somewhere in past, keeping company with rotary dial phones, typewriters and telegrams.
I'm Ruth Herman Wells M.S., Director of Youth Change Workshops. I've been tracking teacher professional development and college education programs for nearly 25 years.
Can you imagine if universities and colleges were still teaching their students about building better horse-drawn carriages? Do you think any college is touting their state-of-the-art courses to learn how to write code for Atari computers? How many higher ed institutes boast that their students are learning the latest techniques for building better tape recorders?
No university wants to be left behind, but whether they know it or not, today's colleges and universities continue to churn out teachers who are prepared to work in a world that no longer exists.
If Mad Men wasn't a TV show about the sixties, but we were actually back in the sixties, teacher training would be right on track for an era when the biggest problem in the classroom was too much trash in the trash can. Now, the biggest problem in the classroom can be a student assaulting peers or the teacher with the trash can. We are worlds away from 1965.
Professional Development Training Reform
K-12 Education Trends and Fads
K-12 educators have been bounced around like pinballs in those vintage machines, careening from trend to trend and fad to fad. Trends and fads have included moments in the limelight for bullying, cyberbullying, character education, values clarification and many other philosophical points of view. The overarching trend however has remained education's obsession with high stakes national and statewide testing.
Real-World, Updated Solutions
The real solution for K-12 education may lie elsewhere. It might just be a simple, commonsense idea. How about we stop focusing over-testing students with a one-size-fits-all tool that may not fit every student in every corner of the U.S?
Once "testing mania" had been relaxed, now we could look at today's student through new eyes. The first thing we're going to notice is the substantial social, emotional, motivational and academic problems these students present. That should be our new starting point. We should switch from testing as a focus to helping contemporary kids learn exactly how to become prepared, motivated students with the specific skills needed to succeed in school.
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School Skills Training
I call this new focus School Skills Training. Using focused, innovative, clever classroom and behavior management methods, students can finally learn the skills they've needed all along. Students will receive help with any social, emotional and motivational issues, along with any academic problems.
School Skills Training: It's a simple, unglamorous, common sense idea that would make a lousy fad or trend. But this simple idea could rapidly re-shape today's schools into places that do so much more than teach to the test, and prepare students to pass important exams.
School Skills Training has the power to bring sanity back to schools, and move the power in the classroom from the statehouse and White House back to where it belongs: in the hands of the person who stands in front of that classroom every day.
For now, teacher professional development training and college preparation are firmly entrenched in yesterday. I say that useful, lasting change is way overdue. I believe that we desperately need to reform teacher training…yesterday.