Teacher Education’s “Black Box”

Over at Real Clear Education, I have a new piece that looks at two recent research studies on innovation in teacher education, one of which proclaims significant research is needed when it comes to understanding what good teaching is. As I write, such data really isn’t needed. The real challenge is how we get the research we do know into classrooms, both at the K-12 and at the postsecondary levels.

In my essay, I issue a call to focus teacher preparation efforts both on what is known and what a prospective teacher is able to do with it. We need to move beyond teaching “at” someone and instead ensure the student — or the prospective teacher — is able to take that new knowledge and apply it. Even more simply, we need a competency-based approach to teacher education.

As I write:

There is nothing magical about 36 credit hours of graduate education that ensures one will be an effective teacher. Instead, it is about understanding content and pedagogy, as well as being able to put that understanding to use in a classroom of your own.

That means that teacher preparation must begin to shift from a “time served” model to competency-based one. It means more time spent demonstrating skills in a K-12 classroom than sitting in a lecture hall. It means recognizing that the prospective teacher takes priority over the process, appreciating what an educator is bringing to the process and then building personalized approaches to complete preparation. And it means continually acquiring competencies well after the initial licensure is completed.

Some may say the concept of throwing out the clock and the credit hour is controversial. But it is an idea that is both needed and proven. And it is an effort I am proud to be focusing on as part of my work at the Woodrow Wilson Foundation.

Happy reading!


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