Watching New Teachers
As my children and my neighbors’ children graduated from college and entered the workforce, several of them and their friends took teaching positions straight out of college. Every time, I was struck by how little they knew about the field they were entering and how huge the challenge they had taken on. Smart and dedicated, they simply had no experience managing a classroom, organizing instruction, thinking through how children learn, or any of the myriad problems posed by teaching. Some have stuck with it, and some have not. But those who have stuck with it have had to overcome a lot of confusion.
A few, however, knowing that they needed more support than is usually provided new teachers, have sought out programs that provide a year or more of training under a master teacher before they are given their own classrooms. It’s too soon to tell how well it will work for them over the long haul, but they have made a commitment to the profession, and their districts have made something of a commitment to them. That seems to me to be a more promising way to start a career than simply taking a bachelor’s degree to a district hiring fair.
And it turns out that most people agree, as I write about in the Huffington Post this week. In fact, about 80 percent of Americans think that teachers should pass something equivalent to a bar exam for lawyers — something that the American Federation of Teachers called for years ago.