Samstag, 11. Februar 2012

practical training - getting things done

I wrote a post about the positives (pros) in our teacher training program. At first I had in mind to write a pros-and-cons list, but after I wrote the first post I kept thinking about the issues that could be counted as negatives. The more I thought, the more I came to the realization that there aren't real ‘cons’ to write about. Of course there are a lot of issues that should be fixed rather soon to keep the level up, but nothing major came up to me.
Now the things that should be done, and can be counted as negatives as of right now arent really one persons or teachers fault. The root of most problems lies within the general framework of teacher-education and some times the school system itself.
Before I start explaining some points I’d like to see get fixed, I want to point out that most of issues I’m going to mention could only be fixed in a perfect world; because a lot just can’t be done logistically.
The first major issue is the number of hours we get to spend in an actual classroom teaching. I mentioned it in an earlier post already, we (at the University of Education Vienna) are still enormously lucky to have practical training implemented in our training right from the start. (Sidenote reminder: our first time in a classroom and in school is the second week of our training, after that we are in class every week, and we are already teaching sequences at the end of the first semester; whereas the main university student-teachers get to be in class somewhere around they second or third year). So, even though we get to spend more time in class doing stuff, I’d like to be in class even more. Teaching is one of the things that you learn best by doing it practically. And although I think it’s the best possible way to get student-teachers ready, we would raise the quality even more by being in class two hours per week more for example. The good thing is, there are a lot of student-teachers who think like me, we want to spend as much time as we can teaching and working with kids. So the easiest solution is to find work where you get the chance to practice, e.g., coaching sports or tutoring.
And from what I’ve experienced, you definitely see the difference between the student-teachers who work on their teaching skill besides the university and the student-teachers who don't (care).

So the time spent teaching is the most valuable time we as student-teachers can spend. And if you care about what you are doing, you are going to find a way to get even more practice time.

Now to the second point which might be a problem for some teachers but probably not all.
Almost every school we get to teach in, has already had student-teachers work there for quite some time, so the kids know about the whole routine. To be more specific, they know we are
student-teachers. This is were the problem lies, beginners who don't have that much prior experience in standing in front of a class and/or working with kids are facing some real disciplinary issues. There are always beginners without having taught previously that have a natural authority. It can be difficult for them to get into this teacher role, if the kids don’t treat them like a real teacher. The solution would be kind of easy to, but lies within the framework of the teacher training. Since it has been established that we are student-teachers it would take years again to get it across (also to some other teachers) that the students are to be treated as real teachers.

These issues don’t hinder the development by much, but it could be more effective without them. I think the key thing is to embrace the opportunity you have with your teacher training, but if you want to improve and develop as a teacher, take every chance you get to work with kids or in a teaching environment, be it as a tutor or coach.

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