I heard this story and this companion story on NPR the other day.
The stories were about career changers who go from various careers to teaching and the way the path to becoming a teacher is changing. The first story focused on a particular woman who spent 25 years in banking and is now in her first year of teaching with 33 first graders. Yikes! I taught first grade for a year and my 22 drove me crazy!! Of course, the teacher was struggling. She had only had a 6 week crash course (how is that even legal?) in teaching, but no matter how prepared you think you are for teaching, you will never really learn how to do it – until you do it. And you’ll have to be willing to get through a couple of hard years before you get the hang of it.
One of the cool things in the story was that this teacher had been given an experienced mentor, and the two of them were exchanging ideas for keeping the children on task and things to help them burn extra energy. The writer compared the two teachers to doctors seriously discussing treatment options for a patient (that was left out of the transcript.). I was thrilled! People tend to think of teaching as an easy job, or a job anybody can do. Why is teaching not considered as serious as a medical profession? Teaching involves strategic and critical thinking. How will I teach this? How will I keep the students’ attention? Teaching involves attention to detail, organization, and the finesse of being able to match student ability and interest to learning activities and maintenance activities. Teaching involves the ability to care and the ability to discipline with dignity. Of course teacher discussions are as crucial as doctor discussions!!!
The second topic these stories brought up was how teacher education is changing, and now there are multiple paths to becoming a teacher. It really doesn’t bother me that nowadays people can become certified teachers in about a year when it took me 4 (or if you count my master’s, 6) years. My own husband has been teaching without credentials at a private school for several years, and he is thinking about going back to get a Master of ARts in Teaching (i.e., certification for people with non-education degrees) and I’m all for it. Now, the program discussed on NPR was a little too whirlwind for my taste, but overall I’m glad that we are coming up with ways to bring people from other career areas into teaching. That is a benefit because they know how what these kids are learning can be applied in real life situations!