There is little question that the edu-world is experiencing a time of transition. Whether one is talking about testing and assessment, socio-economic issues, instructional expectations, teacher preparation, design of the school or the school day, or virtually any other issue that touches today’s students, one thing is clear. The schools, teaching, and learning of the future will likely bear little resemblance to those we experienced when we were young learners.
Earlier this week, NCTAF released What Matters Now: A New Compact for Teaching and Learning. In its call to action, NCTAF issued a call to action focused on six key reccs designed to help shift the field toward “more engaging and relevant teaching and learning for all.” These recommendations include:
- Policymakers should establish and broadly communicate a new compact with teachers
- Every state should establish a Commission on teaching, learning, and the State’s Future
- States and districts should codify and track whether all schools are “organized for success”
- Teacher preparation should be more relevant and clinically-based
- States should support all new teachers with multi-year induction and high-quality mentoring
- Education leaders should evaluate all professional learning for responsiveness and effectiveness
The full report is well worth the read. In a era of relative doom and gloom, NCTAF provides a positive view of both what is possible and what is necessary. All of the areas provided above are of importance to the future of both teaching and learning. But dear ol’ Eduflack wants to throw a spotlight on NCTAF’s specific thinking with regard to buckets four and five — teacher and ed and teacher mentoring.
Specifically, when it comes to teacher prep, the report offers :
To stem chronic shortages and turnover and to improve teachers’ experience and efficacy, it is particularly important that pre-service teachers gain significant experience with real classrooms. Therefore,
- Teacher preparation should include a year of clinical experience
- Coursework should include social-emotional as well as academic learning, and experience in culturally knowledgeable and responsive practices
- Performance assessments, proven to be a reliable way to ensure that beginning teachers are competent to lead a classroom, should be used as a strong indicator of teacher readiness
- Teacher preparation programs and school districts need to invest in and strengthen their partnerships to improve teacher candidates’ effectiveness and retention
And when it comes to supporting those new to the teaching profession, NCTAF provides the following ideas:
New teacher induction and mentoring leads to improved teacher retention, satisfaction, and efficacy. Yet currently only a few states provide this critical foundation for their teachers. States should:
- • Require a multi-year induction program as a licensure requirement
• Provide sustained program funding
• Require multi-year mentoring, with carefully selected and trained mentors
• Consider additional release time for new teachers as is done in other countries
• Consider pilot programs that provide differentiated induction for teachers from different pathways
From a strong clinical experience to multi-year mentoring, these are important pieces that must be factored into the future of teacher preparation and educator development. They are items that many of the organizations I work with, from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation to TeachStrong, are focusing on. And they are issues we need to spend more time not only talking about, but actually doing.
(Full disclosure, Eduflack previously worked for NCTAF, but it was many, many ages ago.)