The future of teacher training

I was reflecting with my pre-service teacher about teacher training. Two 5 week placements is really not enough time to develop all the skills needed to successfully teach. She is in her last placement, so this is the last opportunity for formal mentoring before she’s on her own in a classroom. She’s gotten stuck in class a few times this week – she needed help and advice ‘in the moment’ when a practical didn’t go right, when she ran out of work during a lesson, when she wasn’t knowledgeable enough in the subject content and assessment to answer a student question, when a student wouldn’t listen and became unsafe. It’s a less stressful job when there is someone else in the classroom with you – without taking over and undermining her teaching, I could troubleshoot and offer strategy options, provide ideas of how to respond, show her new avenues of resources, and give confidence to make a desicive plan of action.

These moments could break a first year out teacher and reduce the day to tears. But having a mentor in the room provides support in the tough and disruptive moments.

10 weeks is not long enough practical experience to grow successful, confident and resilient teachers (I know, that’s all I got too!). Plus, I know that I grew so much while studying my masters concurrent with teaching (as theory and practice inform each other).  I think teacher training should consist of:

  • 6 months initial study, covering any content/assessment/planning basics of the subject being taught, basic cognitive, motivational, and metacognitive strategies for learning, ways to give feedback, and registration requirements (like first aid and mandatory reporting).
  • 12 month paid internship on 0.6-0.8FTE load, starting with diverse observation opportunities (3 weeks), moving to team teaching with a mentor teacher(s) (7 weeks), moving to planning and teaching with a mentor(s) in the room (10 weeks), moving to teaching solo with daily mentor checks (10 weeks), then teaching solo with weekly check-ins (10 weeks).
  • During the intership, students should continue their formal study in topics that are relevant to their practical experiences like positive behavioural change, differentiation, psychology, student wellbeing, effective assessment, technological tools and pedagogical best practice.
  • Be granted provisional registration.
  • A final 6 months of ‘finishing study’ where students are required to design and research an educational intervention, collect data, write an article, and contribute to the scientific literature on educational best practice. A portfolio of work samples aligning to AITSL standards to support full registration would also be required. This could be concurrent with a job, or done before seeking employment.
  • Graduate as a confident, skilled, educated teacher with a 2 years Masters in Teaching and full registration.

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