Thursday, March 12, 2009

What a Great Idea

I just finished reading an article from the Scholastic Administrators Magazine

Boston Reinvents Teacher Training

How to recruit, grow, and keep teachers in a tough urban climate. From what I read this program seems to be a nice step toward using local resources to fill hard to fill teaching jobs in the inner city areas and keep them!

Former Boston superintendent Thomas Payzant, who helped start btr, recalls that his biggest problem with new teachers was not subject knowledge or pedagogy, but under-preparation for the environment.

"What we were getting when teachers arrived in Boston classrooms were people who were pretty well grounded in content and had some sense of how to teach. But they were not well prepared for such a diverse student body with high percentages of kids from low-income families," says Payzant, now professor of practice at Harvard's Graduate School of Education. "That absence of experience with diversity often resulted in their lack of success."

"In a striking shift from traditional teacher training, which leans on book learning followed by general classroom practice, the Boston Teacher Residency (BTR) program operates on the premise that to succeed, new teachers need amped-up self-awareness, help translating theory into practice—and loads of classroom time with a mentor teacher in the district where they will teach"

AWSOME! I wish more teacher preparation programs would give upcoming teachers more time mentoring in the classroom, instead of just a few weeks of student teaching. Many teachers leave the teaching field due to being overwhelmed, unprepared, and realizing this was not the job they thought it was. What a waste of money and time. In Pennsylvania student teachers pay for the 15 hour class and get placed in a classroom as free labor while they learn. That is OK if you can afford to do that. In this BTR program these students receive a stipend not much but it helps get them in the program and allows them to continue it. I had to take leave from my job to student teach, I was married at the time so I had the backup system to handle the pay cut for a few weeks, but I went back afterward. In this program I am glad they get a stipend otherwise I think most could not afford to be in this program.

The Elephant in Urban Education
a glossed-over reality of inner-city education is that the teachers are mostly white and middle class while their students are typically minority and poor. BTR confronts this issue head-on. At least half of the residents chosen each year from a huge applicant pool are minorities (53 percent this year). It's also rare to visit a workshop for site directors (BTR leaders in each school who guide mentor-resident relationships) or a lecture for residents where race and class are not on the agenda.

BTR leaders want residents to consider how identity and experience affect the way they teach—and how their students learn. "I came from a white, suburban, upper-middle-class background. I was in all honors classes and never gave any of my teachers a behavior problem in my life," says Sarah Gross, a 2005 BTR graduate whose frank tone relays a comfort with her transition from business consultant to high school math teacher. "I would have no idea how to deal with a kid who swore at me or said they would go out into the street and become a street pharmacist."

I LOVE it, how else are you going to get kids to love to learn then if you have been there and can relate to them! Of course I am a white catholic school teacher who went to catholic school so I am in my element and I am good at it. I have worked with poor rural as well dealing with migrant workers, rough farm kids who don't think they need school and parents who ask "why they need this". I can work really well with them I can relate with them I have three horses, chickens, a goat and even two Border collie that heard. I can go over feed tags and % of protein versus fiber, how much each animal needs to be at optimal level. Then all of a sudden these parents who say why, say teach him that so I don't have to waste feed. All of a sudden these kids are in Agriculture College learning about animal nutrition.

I have never been thrown into teaching in an inner city school. I would love to try it, would I succeed? I don't know but I am also a half full glass person and love the challenge. Whereas this program takes those who have familiarity and have been through the same things they can relate and hopefully succeed with these children. I can't wait to see in a few years how this plays out keep your fingers crossed and maybe other areas will copy this program. This summer our family is hosting a New York City kid through the fresh air program, I have read about the program for years and finally going to do it. I have a coworker who said it was the worst experience she ever had and talked to another person at our church who has done it for 20 years. It may be the worst experience I ever have…it could be one of the best or just so-so. Let's just wait and see.

All Blue quotes come from this article which can be accessed:


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