This week I had the opportunity to sit on a panel with friends and colleagues at the Kentucky Excellence in Educator Preparation (KEEP) Conference. We participated in a pretty wide-ranging discussion about the state of educator preparation in the commonwealth and where we would like to see preparation heading. Here are a few of the ideas I shared concerning teacher preparation:
- Kentucky Has Made Great Progress: Kentucky has made great strides with improving the quality of educator preparation. In fact, we are now frequently cited across the county for our efforts. That work in Kentucky is still underway, and it should be. While I believe we are doing a much better job of preparing teachers for the classroom today than in previous generations, particularly with greater use of clinical models of preparation, we are not yet where we would like to be.
- Intentional Recruitment: The progress we have made thus far has happened in large part without much intentional recruitment of young people into teacher preparation programs. If we are to continue to progress, in addition to continuing to improve the quality of preparation programs, we must begin to be more intentional with the recruitment of high achieving students who love kids into teacher preparation programs. As well, we must do more to intentionally recruit (and retain) men, people of color, people with disabilities, and people who desire to teach in hard-to-staff schools and hard-to-staff areas like special education, mathematics, science, computer science, and technical fields.
- Differentiated Preparation: There are many elements of teaching and teacher preparation that are the same regardless of the context where teachers work. But there are unique challenges that teachers in different contexts face as well. While teachers in any context face challenges, the challenges are often different. For example, the challenges of teaching in a high poverty urban context are different from the challenges of teaching in a high poverty, geographically isolated rural environment. And the challenges of those contexts are different from the challenges of teaching in a middle-income to affluent suburban context. Taking teacher preparation to the next level will require that our preparation programs better prepare pre-service teachers for the specific contexts where they are likely to serve.
After spending a few weeks in Finland in the summer of 2013, I shared some thoughts and observations about the teaching profession, teacher preparation, and teacher recruitment in the U.S. You can find that content here.