Becoming a teacher
Teacher Interview: Katie Johnston
Meet Katie Johnston, first-grade teacher of 22 first graders at Shell Rock Elementary School in the Waverly–Shell Rock Community School District in Northeastern Iowa. Shell Rock Elementary is one of four elementary centers in the district and services 160 PreK–4 students. There are 10 full-time teachers and specialists at Shell Rock Elementary. The rural and somewhat bucolic setting of Shell Rock Elementary provides a close-knit community of teachers and learners. Ms. Johnston earned her degree in teacher education at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa.
Why did you choose teaching as a career?
I wasn’t really one of those people who knew that I wanted to be a teacher. I was interested in getting a degree in music. However, the summer after my senior year in high school, I worked with kids with special needs and so when I showed up on campus for my first year as a university freshman, I changed all of my courses from music to education.
How did you get started in your teacher education program?
At Wartburg, I was very fortunate to have placements early in the program and in a variety of settings throughout the program. My placement in sixth grade for student teaching helped me so much. All the teachers on the sixth-grade team were so supportive of me that I really wanted a sixth-grade position for my first job. Now, I love teaching first grade and I am determined to grow professionally.
How did you prepare for your first placement as a teacher?
Fortunately, I knew I had a job in April, so I was able to meet with the current teacher who was changing grade levels. She helped me with ideas and resources. I had a mentor during my two-year probationary period, and she gave me excellent advice regarding writing lesson plans and understanding why it was important to script them.
Where do you find joy in teaching?
There are so many different ways to find joy in teaching. I love listening to students’ stories. I also really enjoy being able to build strong relationships with families. It is a great joy when I see my students begin to enjoy reading and be excited about learning. I had to make a huge mental shift from thinking I might become a sixth-grade teacher to the reality that I was going to be teaching first grade. Sometimes I am surprised at the level of understanding first-graders have about things adults take for granted. For example, during my second year of teaching I got married and I told my students that I was going to be gone for a while and that my name would change. When I came back to be their teacher, they were expecting someone else. I guess since they thought I would have a new name I wouldn’t be the same person. Things like that can keep a smile in your heart for a long time.
How would you describe excellence in teaching?
To me excellence is really about being responsive and flexible in meeting the needs of your students. Instruction must really be based on academic strengths of the students. It is absolutely necessary for teachers to see each student as a whole being in order to be excellent. Excellent teachers learn to use resources in the community and help from parents because teaching is a big job, and you can’t expect to be able to do it all yourself.
In what ways, as a teacher, do you focus on student learning?
I really try to always hold student learning as the measure for what I plan for my lessons; to make sure I am on track with my strategies and learning goals. Focusing on student learning allows me to focus my instructional practices. First-graders have one assessment so both the student and I are not burdened with testing. I also base my lessons off of the common core standards. First-grade teachers in the district meet once a week to discuss learning strategies. The content and standards we must teach to are clear, but teachers are given some leeway in how those standards should be met so we can match instruction to individual student needs.
How would you describe the relationship between teaching and assessment?
It is a love–hate relationship. I think the word assessment has gotten a bad rap because we associate assessment with standardized tests that teachers are forced to do. Formative assessments are at the core of our instructional practices.
Questions to Consider
1. Ms. Johnston’s experience working with special needs students led her to teaching. What other experiences in people’s lives might lead them toward choosing teaching as a career?
2. What are some of the joyful images that come to mind when you think about being a teacher?
3. Would teaching in a rural setting such as Shell Rock Elementary School be much different from teaching in a large urban area? Why? Why not?
4. Are beginning teachers usually hired in the grade level of their choice? Why? Why not?
After reading this chapter, you should be able to
1. Recognize the range of variables that influence teachers and teaching.
2. Know the steps one can take to earn a teaching license.
3. Understand the reasons educators consider teaching a profession similar to law and medicine.
4. Understand the ways to find the job that you desire.
5. Understand how to develop patterns of behavior that will contribute to a successful career as a teacher.
6. Be aware of the importance of keeping track of personal and professional growth as a teacher.
Teaching is a noble profession . It is a joyful profession. It can be fun to help others learn. Teaching is also hard work. Teaching is a demanding profession that requires making hundreds of decisions during a school day, managing 20 to 40 student’s hour after hour, analyzing data about learning, and interacting with parents and colleagues. Teaching has never been easy even in earlier times when the classroom was a one-room schoolhouse. In addition to making sure all of their students were learning, teachers in former times had to build the fires to keep the school warm and sweep up after the students went home. Teaching requires high levels of sustained energy, effort, and motivation. Since you are reading this text, you are no doubt thinking about teaching as a career.
Is teaching the right choice for you? Some candidates in teaching have started along this career path because they enjoyed going to school. Some follow in the footsteps of parents, aunts, or uncles. Others want to be part of kids’ lives, to advocate for children, and to give children exciting, meaningful experiences to help them become educated adults. Many remember a favorite teacher and want to have the same influence on others that that teacher had on them. Teaching seems familiar because we have all spent so much of our lives in classrooms. It is possible to think that teaching can’t be too difficult because many of our teachers made it seem easy. We saw teaching through the eyes of the students, not the teachers. Teachers have a very different view of classrooms.
Video Link Watch a video about the journey to becoming a teacher.
This text will help you explore whether teaching is the right profession for you and what it means to view classrooms from a teacher’s perspective. This text will help you understand the diversity of students, communities, and schools in the United States. It will introduce you to the theoretical foundations supporting the teaching profession and explain some of the basic skills needed to manage a classroom and help students learn. This text will shed light on the realities of teaching that teachers face today as well as the joys they experience as part of the teaching profession.
Katie Johnston’s original plan for her future didn’t include becoming a teacher. She had other goals, other desires than to spend her days in classrooms with children and young adults. But when she had the opportunity to actually teach special needs children, her fate was sealed. Her interactions with the boys and girls in the summer program brought her an immense sense of accomplishment and joy. And so, she became a teacher.
What brought you to consider a career in teaching? Most teachers say they want to teach because they care about children and youth and believe they can make a difference in the lives of their students. In a survey of teachers by the National Education Association (NEA; 2003), over half of the teachers also indicated that they originally chose teaching because of the value of education to society. Many secondary teachers report they chose teaching because they love the subject they are teaching. Some chose teaching because they love to learn. Many people have wanted to teach for as long as they can remember. Over half of the new teachers in surveys by the Public Agenda indicate they would be satisfied with a job that involves the work they love to do, allows enough time to be with family, contributes to society, provides the support they need, has job security, and gives the sense of being respected and appreciated (Farkas, Johnson, & Foleno, 2000). Teaching does all of these.
The Joy of Teaching
If it isn’t fun, why do it? Teachers have to be able to laugh, to get their students to laugh, and to laugh with their students. Learning should be fun. Smiles and laughter can brighten up any situation, relieve stress, and possibly make whatever difficult task is at hand less daunting. The joy that bubbles up when a group of students are pleasantly surprised or excited should never be squelched. New teachers are well familiar with the adage “Don’t smile until Christmas.” Nothing could be further from the truth. A bit of silliness now and then does not exclude the serious aspects of teaching. A favorite science methods professor of mine made every class a delight. He would laugh, joke, and tease us into learning complex concepts. He often reminded us that he was serious, not somber about science education, and then he would smile. It is the playfulness and spirit of teachers that endears them to students. And it is what students remember of their teachers.
Teachers get to work with people of all sizes, and every day brings something to be happy about.
The joy and rewards of teaching vary from teacher to teacher. The best teachers truly enjoy working with children and youth. They find a challenge in ensuring that underserved students learn at high levels and take joy in the academic success of all students. Former teacher and author Jonathan Kozol shares ideas about how to put the fun back into learning in his latest book, Letters to a Young Teacher. Francesca, the first-grade teacher Kozol shares teaching stories with, finds joy amidst her struggles to reach the most recalcitrant of students. Kozol tells Francesca, “I think teaching is a beautiful profession and that teachers of young children do one of the best things that there is to do in life; bring joy and beauty, mystery and mischievous delight into the hearts of little people in their years of greatest curiosity” (Kozol, 2007, p. 8). Every teacher has a story about the joy he or she finds in teaching. Teachers treasure these moments and are always willing to share them. Ask a teacher you know what brings joy in teaching.
Video Case The Joy of Teaching 1. Teachers in this video express ways of finding joy in teaching. What similarities did you find among their comments? 2. Not everyone decides to teach for the same reason. What are some of the reasons teachers in this video give for becoming teachers?
Intrinsic and Extrinsic Rewards
As Ms. Johnston expressed, joy in teaching can be found in a variety of ways. Most teachers experience intrinsic rewards when students grasp the concept or task they have been teaching. Students are as different as night and day. Some students may be successful in everything they pursue. Some are not. Some students are involved. Others are not. Some students actually resist learning. Teachers search for lessons that will engage all students, and they create ways to get all students to participate in discussions and projects. When teachers can do this, they are rewarded for their efforts. The more teachers are able to bring students together in a learning community, the more they are rewarded. It is a positive cycle that excellent teachers strive to perpetuate. What is exciting is to try to meet the needs of each individual student. Teaching is never boring. It is different from minute to minute, and there is no formula that works for everyone.
Extrinsic rewards for teachers come in the form of acknowledgments from students, from other teachers, from parents, and from prestigious awards such as Teacher of the Year. Teachers receive visits and letters from former students thanking them for inspiration, comfort, and happiness. Sometimes teachers are surprised at the influence they have had on certain students, and when that mischievous student who made them want to tear their hair out, day after day, shows up in later years with a smile and a thank-you, the reward is clear. Parents write thank-you notes, volunteer to be a teacher’s aide, and bake treats for special occasions. Other teachers ask for help with a specific problem or ask to use a lesson that you have developed. Their appreciation of your skill as a teacher is rewarding. Teachers of the Year receive public accolades and have the opportunity to share their expertise with others through speeches and demonstrations. Some awards are even accompanied by money. Receiving payment for going an extra distance is rewarding, but most teachers will tell you it is not the money that brings them joy in teaching See Figure 1.1.
Teachers enjoy sharing the things that happen at school.
Every teacher has a funny story to tell. It is through the sharing of stories that teachers become aware of the strong ties they have to their professional community. Sharing stories also provides a venue for understanding the mysteries of teaching and why it is so rare and marvelous to be a teacher.
Figure 1.1 Why New Teachers Choose to Teach
Source: Adapted from Farkas, S., Johnson, J., & Foleno, T. (2000). A sense of calling: Who teaches and why (p. 10). New York, NY: Public Agenda.
A Story: Mrs. Harper was a second-grade teacher in a rural school in Oregon. Due to a health problem, her doctor had put her on a special diet, and by the end of the first nine weeks Mrs. Harper had lost quite a bit of weight. One afternoon she donned her science apron and called her students to come stand around the science table for a demonstration. As was conducting the demonstration, the slacks she was wearing slipped past her hips and fell to the floor. Mrs. Harper was unaware of this but the students near her noticed and started to snicker. Mrs. Harper admonished them to behave and so they quieted down. When the demonstration was over Mrs. Harper turned to step toward the blackboard and stumbled over her downed slacks. “Oh, my,” she exclaimed, “My pants have fallen off.” And then she laughed. The shrieks and laughter from Mrs. Harper’s classroom could be heard throughout the school. In no time at all everyone knew that Mrs. Harper had dropped her slacks. It was the highlight of the month. At the end of the year, Mrs. Harper’s class held a going away party for her and the cake, made by a parent, was decorated according to the second graders’ directions. Atop the cake was an image of Mrs. Harper in her science apron with her slacks down around her ankles. The words “To our favorite teacher, Mrs. Harper, the day she dropped her slacks” said it all.
Ask teachers you know to tell you a story about something funny that happened to them while they were teaching. As their stories unfold, watch their faces and you will see the joy in teaching.
Making a Difference
Can you think of a teacher who made a difference in your life? It may be one who really cared about you, or a teacher who convinced you to apply for college, or one who challenged you to learn, or one who helped you develop self-esteem. Professional athletes, presidents of companies, and national leaders often attribute their success to a teacher. The teacher may not know until years after the student has left her classroom that she had such an impact.
Parents believe that teachers make a difference in their children’s lives, especially when it comes to learning. Many parents know who the good teachers are in their schools and do everything they can to ensure their children are in those teachers’ classrooms. According to the 2011 Gallop Poll of the public’s attitudes toward the public schools, more than 50% of Americans gave either an A or B to the schools in their community (Bushaw & Lopez, 2011). Research validates parents’ beliefs that effective teachers do make a difference in student learning. In the 1990s, Sanders and Rivers (1996) and their colleagues at the University of Tennessee compiled achievement data from standardized tests for students in Tennessee schools and followed the data through successive years of school. They found that two students who performed at the same level in the second grade could be separated by as many as 50 percentile points by the fifth grade if one of them had an effective teacher and the other an ineffective teacher for the next three years.
Other researchers have found that the influence of teachers on student achievement is greater than any other observable factor such as small class sizes (Darling-Hammond, 1999; Rivkin, Hanushek, & Kain, 1998). Excellent teachers hardly ever stop thinking about the subjects they teach. When you discover a subject that you love, the best way to enjoy it for the rest of your life is to teach it to others.
Students can create amazing things when they are allowed to express their talent.
One of most joyful parts of teaching is to see students achieve at high levels. This achievement could be physical, social, or creative as well as intellectual. All are important in the development of the whole child or person. During your teacher education program, you will learn how to develop lesson plans and deliver instruction. You will be expected to be creative in developing rigorous and engaging instructional strategies that draw on the cultural background and prior experiences of students. Your success will depend on students learning the concepts you are trying to teach.
How will you know that students are learning at the expected levels? One of the most superficial measures will be performance on standardized tests, which are required annually in most schools. Of course, you will want students to perform well on those tests, but they measure only a narrow slice of the knowledge that students should be developing. Teachers are also helping students develop skills to use the knowledge required for doing well on a standardized test in real-life situations. Teachers provide opportunities for students to analyze and think critically about the subject. They help students develop dispositions , or attitudes and behaviors that will show they value learning. Joy is seeing examples of student learning in multiple forms that convince you that a student is ready for the next grade.
The Teaching Profession
Most teachers consider themselves professionals. However, until recently, teaching was identified by many as a semiprofession as compared with the professions of law, medicine, architecture, engineering, and accountancy. One reason was that teaching had not provided the same monetary advantages or prestige as the traditional professional fields. Another reason was that teachers seem to have relatively little control over their work. Other professionals or policymakers select the curriculum, set rules, and develop learning standards. Most teachers have limited access to an office, telephone, and secretary. The structure of a teacher’s day leaves little time to interact with colleagues to plan or challenge each other intellectually.
A profession is defined as “a calling requiring specialized knowledge and often long and intensive academic preparation” (“Profession,” 2004). All states require at least a bachelor’s degree to be eligible for an initial license to teach. Traditionally, states have required some specialized preparation in education that includes student teaching or an internship. A growing number of universities are requiring teacher candidates to have a bachelor’s degree in a content area before they begin graduate work in education. Thus, over time a growing number of teachers are receiving their specialized preparation for teaching at the graduate level. Most teachers today have a master’s degree and continue to participate in professional development activities throughout their careers.
Being a Professional
A profession sets standards for entry into the profession. In addition, its members apply standards and codes of ethics to themselves and others, disciplining one another, when necessary, by removing licenses from offenders. Professionals provide services to clients. Their work is intellectual, requiring specialized knowledge and skills. They are bound by an ethical code that guides their relationships with clients and colleagues. They also have an obligation to practice their profession in ways the public would find acceptable.
In other professions, standards and rules are set by the professionals themselves. School administrators, members of the school board, and state legislators usually set standards and rules for teachers. This practice is not likely to change unless teachers themselves become involved in the teaching profession beyond their own classrooms. Teacher unions provide an opportunity for teachers to negotiate contracts that outline salary and working conditions. Teacher organizations in most states conduct annual or semiannual statewide meetings for their members. These meetings provide professional development opportunities, a chance to network with other teachers, and a mechanism for becoming involved at the state level. You can stay engaged with your subject area and other educational interests by joining national organizations such as the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) or the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). Many of the national organizations have state affiliates in which you could be a member or become a leader. Through teacher organizations, teachers can serve on accreditation teams that evaluate schools and universities in their state or across the country. One sign of a true professional is active and continued involvement in professional organizations at local, state, and national levels.
Deeper Look Read about criteria concerning teaching as a profession.
Setting and Upholding Standards
Throughout the past 20 years, teachers have worked with professors, parents, and the general public to set standards for students and teachers in their school districts, states, and national organizations. In some states, teachers have the majority control of professional standards boards that have the responsibility for developing licensure standards for teachers and other school professionals. When necessary, these boards withdraw licenses from teachers whose behaviors have led to malpractice. In states without professional standards boards, these functions are usually provided by a state board of education, whose members have been elected or appointed by the governor.
Both schools and teacher education programs are also held to professional standards. Most other professions require their members to graduate from an accredited program before they can take the state licensure examination. In the past, some states required teacher education programs to be nationally accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) or the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC). Recently these two accrediting agencies merged into one accrediting body with the new name Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). If you are in a teacher education program hosting a visit by an accreditation examination team, you may be asked to talk about your program and field experiences. The team may ask you about your portfolio and what you have learned about working with students from diverse populations. They may ask how you know that students are learning. They are also likely to ask you about the quality of teaching at the university, particularly by education faculty members. When you are teaching, you are likely to be involved every few years in an accreditation visit by the state and/or regional accrediting agency.
To teach in a public school, teachers must be licensed by a state agency to teach a specific subject (for example, mathematics or social studies) at the middle or high school levels. Early childhood, elementary, special education, physical education, music, and art teachers are licensed to teach children in specific grades such as preschool, primary, K–6, or K–12. If you graduate from a state-approved program, which is connected to national accreditation, you have usually met the state requirements for a state license. You also will be required to pass a state licensure test in most states. Some states will grant a provisional license that allows you to teach for three to five years before meeting all of the requirements for licensure. Several years of successful practice and possibly completion of a master’s degree is normally required to attain a professional license to continue teaching. Requirements are different when you apply for a license in a state other than the one in which you graduated. The second state may have additional requirements that you must meet and may have higher cutoff, or qualifying, scores on the required licensure tests. If you plan to move to a different state to teach, check the requirements for a license so that you can take the appropriate courses during your program.
National Board Certification
Teachers with three years of experience are eligible to apply for national certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) . Applicants provide evidence in the collection of documents that are compiled in a portfolio to demonstrate meeting standards for their subject area at a specific age level. Each portfolio must include a videotape of the teacher teaching a lesson, reflections on teaching, and an analysis of student work. In addition, the teacher must complete assessment exercises at a testing center. Teaching performance is judged by experienced teachers using rubrics aligned with standards. Many states and school districts cover the costs for teachers to participate in this process, which could be $2,300 or more.
What are the advantages of seeking national board certification? Most applicants report that the process helped improve their teaching and the performance of their students. They learned to reflect on their practice and make changes to improve student learning. A 2004 research study (Goldhaber & Anthony, 2004) of student test scores in North Carolina supports the perceptions of these teachers. The study found that the students of national-board-certified teachers are far more likely to improve their scores on state tests than students of non-national-board-certified teachers. In addition, many national-board-certified teachers receive annual bonuses or pay raises.
Video Link Watch a video about National Board Certification.
Teachers must know the subjects they will be teaching. The knowledge and related skills for teaching the subject are described in the standards of the national organizations that represent teachers in that field. You will be expected to understand the subject well enough to help young people know it and apply it to the world in which they live. If students are not learning a concept or skills, teachers must be able to relate the content to the experiences of students to provide meaning and purpose.
The professional and pedagogical knowledge needed by teachers is outlined in the widely accepted standards of the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC), established by the Council of Chief State School Officers. In 2010 an updated version of the standards was vetted to educational organizations for public comment, and in April 2011 the new standards were adopted. The InTASC standards are used by most states as a framework for individual state standards, and it is likely that the revised edition of the InTASC standards will continue to guide what teachers should know and be able to do to be effective in today’s schools. Visit http://www.ccsso.org/Resources/Publications/InTASC_Model_Core_Teaching_Standards_A_Resource_for_State_Dialogue_ (April_2011).html to learn more about the new InTASC Model Core Learning Standards.
Reading about the effort behind the development and adoption of the new InTASC standards should make it very clear that teaching requires a great deal of specialized knowledge and skill. Teachers have to be some of the brightest people on the planet. Teaching may not be rocket science, but it is close.
Code of Ethics
Like members of other professions, teachers as a group have developed a code of ethics to guide their work and relationships with students and colleagues. Professional standards boards and other state bodies investigate teachers for infractions against the code of ethics adopted by the state. Ethics statements address issues such as discrimination against students, restraint of students, protecting students from harm, personal relationships with students, and misrepresenting one’s credentials.
Obligation to Practice in Acceptable Ways
Being a member of a profession is more than showing up for work by 7:30 and not leaving before 3:30. The parents of students in your classroom expect that you will help their children learn. They expect their children to score at acceptable or better levels on achievement tests. They are counting on you to contribute to their children’s literacy and to push them beyond minimal standards. Good teachers manage their classrooms so that students can focus on learning. The public and parents become very concerned when classrooms and schools appear out of control. As a teacher, it will be your obligation to model acceptable behavior based on the norms of the profession.
WHAT DO TEACHERS NEED TO KNOW?
When you watch teachers at work you may wonder why they do things in a certain way, or what motivates them to address one student’s behavior differently from the way they might address another student’s behavior. Since you can’t get inside the teacher’s head and they can’t stop what they are doing to explain to you the reasons behind their actions, you have to accept the fact that they do know what they are doing and why they are doing it. Understanding and being able to articulate teaching practices is something that you will learn to do in your teacher education program. Becoming familiar with the teaching standards developed by InTASC will also help you understand the specialized knowledge, skills, and dispositions specific to the teaching profession.
Teacher Education Programs
Since teachers have to be well educated, the first step in getting into a teacher education program is to demonstrate your brightness by completing university core requirements with a grade point average (GPA) of at least 2.5. However, some colleges of education are requiring a GPA of 2.75 to be admitted to the professional course work teachers must take for licensure. The advising centers at most colleges of education have complete information on what is required before anyone can be admitted to a traditional teacher education program. Visit the website of your local institution of higher education and check out the steps you must take to be admitted to one of their licensure programs for teachers.
The college of education website at the California State University, Long Beach, presents a range of links to different programs, to different levels of professional work, and provides numerous links to career services and advising. It is easy to find out what you must do to earn a teaching degree. All the information you need to have a successful beginning is right at your fingertips.
Ways Programs Are Organized and Why
Teacher education programs are traditionally designed to move candidates along a path of acquiring knowledge of human development and behaviors, learning about laws affecting practice in schools, gaining understanding of counseling practices as well as the impact of cultural diversity on schools and classrooms, and gathering an understanding of working with children with disabilities in regular school classrooms. Candidates who are seeking a secondary license to teach in middle schools or high schools must, in addition to the general university core, complete a specified number of courses in their elected field. Since you are reading this text, you are no doubt already on the path to licensure as a teacher. Stay the course and you will discover a very rewarding future.
The Importance of Clinical Practice
Many teacher education programs include early clinical experience to provide the candidates opportunities to begin to learn what teaching involves (Darling-Hammond, Hammerness, Grossman, Rust, & Shulman, 2005). A policy brief on the clinical preparation of teachers by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) stresses the importance of clinical experiences as a key factor in candidates’ success (AACTE, 2010). Lortie (1975) made it clear that observing teaching wasn’t the ideal way to learn how to teach, that teacher education candidates had to be actively involved in the daily work of teachers. Now, nearly 40 years after Lortie’s conclusions, teacher education programs are in the process of redesign to more closely align university course work with practice in the field. Field-based teacher education programs place cohorts of candidates in partnership or professional development schools, assign them site-based mentors and supervisors, and require evidence of Reflection on practice to help the candidates develop cognitive frameworks for teaching. One such field-based program is the 21st Century Schools Partnership between the University Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) College of Education and the Clark County School District in Nevada.
Different Pathways to Licensure
The majority of teachers have completed bachelor’s programs that prepared them for a license to teach. Most often, they began their preparation soon after high school. Although some education courses may be taken in the first two years of college, candidates are usually not admitted to education programs until they are juniors. Many education courses require candidates to complete field experiences in schools as a component of the course. Some programs require candidates to be observing and working in schools for several days a week, even offering the education courses at the school. Candidate’s students teach under the supervision of a teacher and college supervisor during the final year of their bachelor’s program.
Deeper Look Read more about teacher certification in the United States.
You can study to become a teacher through many routes. Programs are delivered in college classrooms and schools. Some programs can be completed via distance learning without stepping on a campus. A growing number of candidates begin exploring teaching as a career in community colleges, initially developing portfolios and working with children and youth in schools and community projects.
Most colleges and universities offer a number of pathways for becoming a teacher. Not all teacher education programs are traditional four-year undergraduate programs. Many colleges of education offer post-baccalaureate courses to meet state licensure requirements. School districts may negotiate professional development course work with state licensing agencies to provide on-the-job credit for individuals who have the expertise to fill high-need positions but do not have a degree in teaching or a state license to teach. A national debate regarding the credibility of differing routes to licensure is hotly contested in educational journals and the popular media.
The U.S. Department of Education provides funding incentives to colleges of education for creating specialized routes to licensure for high-need areas of teaching. An example of a U.S. Department of Education–funded program is the Project KNOTtT, Transition to Teaching Partnership led by The Ohio State University. This partnership is designed to recruit, select, train, coach, mentor, and retain teachers in high-need, hard-to-staff school districts. As a national initiative, Project KNOTtT addresses the teacher shortages in the subject areas of math, science, English/language arts, foreign languages, English as a Second Language (ESL) , and special education (K–12). This project serves 545 new teachers pursuing nontraditional routes to certification in four states: Kansas, Nevada, Ohio, and Texas.
The Five-Year Teaching Degree
Some teacher education programs are five-year programs that begin at the undergraduate level and end with a master’s degree or eligibility for a license after completing a sequence of graduate courses. These programs allow more time for candidates to study the art and science of teaching and learning. They sometimes require a year-long internship in schools, allowing candidates to practice under the guidance of professionals who provide feedback and support throughout the internship.
Many colleges of education offer teacher education course work once a student has completed an undergraduate program in a specific content area. The final or fifth year of a teacher education program generally places the candidate in a school as a teacher or co-teacher under the supervision of college faculty and school personnel. The fifth-year student gains practical experience during the day and attends classes in the evening. Once students finish their fifth year, they are eligible for licensure and also awarded a master’s degree.
College graduates who decide after they have completed their bachelor’s degree that they want to teach have several options for pursuing a teaching career. They could choose a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program that provides in-depth study and an internship. Many colleges and universities have certificate or licensure programs in which candidates can complete the courses and student teaching required for a state license. These courses often can be used toward a master’s degree, but you should check with a college adviser to ensure this is the case.
A Master of Arts in Teaching degree is offered through the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education. This program is offered completely online and to date is one of the fastest-growing teacher preparation programs online or on campus at a not-for-profit college or university. Candidates in this program participate in clinical experiences in their local area and become immersed in local school culture. Even so, according to Sharon Robinson, AACTE president, not all master’s programs in education offer the value that should be expected of a master’s degree (Robinson, 2011).
Alternative Licensure Plans
A number of new teachers are entering the profession through alternate routes that allow them to begin teaching without any specialized preparation in teaching and learning or field experiences in schools. Other professions such as medicine and engineering would never allow a person to work in the field without proper preparation and supervised experiences with professionals in the field. Opening the entry to teaching to anyone with a bachelor’s degree challenges the status of a profession because no specialized training is required. However, most states require these alternate route teachers to take education courses and be mentored by experienced teachers.
In the past decade a number of nontraditional or alternate routes have emerged. Many of these programs are designed for adults beyond the traditional college age of 18 to 24. They build on the experience and background of candidates who often have worked for a number of years in a nonteaching field. These programs may be similar to traditional undergraduate and graduate programs, but they offer greater flexibility in scheduling courses and field experiences. Many candidates in these programs are working full time in schools or other jobs. Not all teachers’ complete programs at colleges and universities. School districts, state departments of education, and other organizations are also preparing teachers.
Military personnel may participate in Troops to Teachers, a program to assist men and women who have completed their military service in becoming teachers. Other programs help professionals in nonteaching fields to become teachers. These programs often place candidates in classrooms to complete their coursework and field experiences.
Teach for America (TFA), a nonprofit organization, recruits outstanding students from some of the nation’s most prestigious universities to teach for two or more years in low-income communities throughout the United States. The TFA recruits spend a month in intensive preparation for their initial placement. During their years of teaching, they attend monthly professional development meetings conducted by TFA mentors and may also attend courses at a local college of education that will lead to a master’s degree.
Graduate licensure programs are generally limited to persons holding an undergraduate and/or graduate degree in a noneducation field. Licensure programs lead to an elementary or secondary teaching license and a Master of Education (MEd). Candidates in this type of program are required to complete courses that mirror the undergraduate teacher education courses and must complete all of the clinical practice required of undergraduates.
Where the Jobs Are
A projected 52 million students will be enrolled in U.S. public PreK–12 schools by the year 2018 (U.S. Department of Education, 2011), and a projected 4.2 million teachers will be teaching by 2016 (Hussar & Bailey, 2007). It would appear that in the near future there will be a need for your talent. Teaching jobs become available as current teachers retire, move to other schools, or leave the profession. Over the next decade, around 700,000 teachers—almost one of four current teachers—are projected to retire. Teachers leave the profession and move from school to school for a variety of reasons. The primary reasons for moving are layoffs, school closings, and other organizational changes in a school or district. Personal reasons include pregnancy, child-rearing responsibilities, moving to a new location, and health problems (Ingersoll, 2003). One in five beginning teachers are gone within the first three years.
The teacher turnover rate in urban high-priority schools is almost one-third higher than in other schools (National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, 2003), but the largest turnover rate is in small private schools. The rate of teachers leaving large private schools is fairly low, but small private schools suffer from a turnover that is often one-fourth of the staff annually. Although teachers in private schools report greater satisfaction and that their environments are more positive than public schools, they are much more likely to transfer to a public school than their public-school counterparts are to transfer to a private school (Ingersoll, 2003).
Not all new hires in a school district are recent graduates. About half of them are teachers returning to the classroom or moving from another district. A growing number of new teachers are not recent college graduates. They are military retirees or people switching from business or other careers. They often complete alternative pathways into teaching in school-based graduate programs that build on their prior experiences.
You may not be able to find a teaching job in the community in which you grew up or near the university you are attending because the schools have few openings. However, jobs do exist if you are willing to move to a part of the country where there are shortages because of high turnover, a growing student population, or a move to reduce the teacher-to-student ratio in classes.
The demographics of the teaching force do not match the population at large. The majority of teachers are white females. The profession has a shortage of men and teachers of color. Other shortages exist in some areas of the country and for some teaching fields as described below. To attract teachers to areas with teaching shortages, some school districts offer signing bonuses, pay moving expenses, and assist teachers in purchasing homes. Wealthy school systems usually have a surplus of teachers who are applying for jobs. Some new teachers are willing to substitute in these school systems for a year or more until a job becomes available.
Not all schools are the same, nor do they benefit from the same level of funding.
Opportunities are greater in urban high-poverty areas where high turnover exists. Generally, urban and rural areas have more openings than suburban areas, although acute shortages exist in high-poverty suburban areas as well. If you are willing to move to another state, your job opportunities will grow. Alaska, western states, and southern states are actively recruiting new teachers to staff the schools for a growing school-age population (National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, 2003). California, Texas, Nevada, North Carolina, and Florida are experiencing growth in their student populations, increasing the need for teachers.
The first time the idea of teaching crosses our minds, we hold an image of teaching a certain age-group of children or a certain subject. Someone will imagine a kindergarten room full of brightly colored centers; another person will visualize herself at a board working equations with a group of serious high school seniors; someone else will imagine helping a group of students construct a model of the planets in Earth’s solar system. Teaching is an endless display of possibilities, and for each aspiring teacher, its attraction is to a different reality.
Have you decided what subjects you would like to teach? Urban and rural schools are likely to have openings for all subjects, from elementary through high school. However, not enough teachers are being prepared or retained in schools to teach mathematics and science classes, English-language learners, and students with disabilities. Your chances of finding a job improve if you qualify for one of these high-need areas.
Many secondary schools report they have had to hire teachers who did not major in mathematics or science to teach their courses. These out-of-field teachers sometimes have not even minored in these fields and lack the knowledge and skills to help students learn these core subjects. The lack of qualified mathematics and science teachers in urban high schools has contributed to not offering advanced placement classes in these subjects and to the poor test performance of students in these schools. In 2000, the Recruiting New Teachers (RNT) organization reported that over 95% of the largest urban school districts had an immediate need for qualified teachers of mathematics and science. This remains true today, as many teacher education programs focus on recruiting teachers for math and science.
School districts report a shortage of culturally and linguistically diverse educators, especially in areas of the country with large numbers of Latino and immigrant students. Over the past decade, the schools with these needs have expanded from the Southwest, California, Florida, and large urban areas to smaller cities and communities in the Midwest and South where immigrants are employed, and migrant workers have settled. Knowledge and skills in English as a Second Language and bilingual education will give a new teacher an advantage in many urban and rural areas today. Seventy-three percent of the large urban school districts in the RNT (Goldberg & Proctor, 2000) survey indicated they had an immediate need for ESL bilingual teachers.
Another major shortage area is special education teachers who are needed from preschool through high school. These teachers may work with a classroom of special education students, but often work as a resource teacher with regular teachers in inclusive classrooms. They teach students with mental, behavioral, sensory, physical, and learning disabilities. These jobs are usually very demanding, sometimes physically, but they can lead to great deal of joy as students become academically successful or learn to be independent. Many large urban school districts desperately need highly qualified special education teachers.
As mentioned earlier, it is not an uncommon desire among beginning teachers, to want to teach in the same community where they grew up and went to school. However, the types of communities that most beginning teachers have grown up in are not always the places that need the most teachers. If you want to be sure of beginning your teaching career when you graduate, you must go where the jobs are. Highly qualified teachers are always in demand. Make certain you meet the highest requirements for any job, and you will likely end up where you want to be.
Locations and Salaries
Teachers do not select teaching because they expect to receive a high salary. According to the American Federation of Teachers analysis of teacher salary trends, the average teacher salary in the United States was $51,009 in school year 2006–2007 (DeCarlo, Johnson, & Cochran, 2008). It is expected that there will be a high retirement rate of teachers in the coming decades as baby boomers leave the profession, so it is encouraging that beginning teachers’ salaries increased twice the rate of inflation in 2007 (DeCarlo et al., 2008).
Deeper Look Read more about teacher compensation.
The highest and lowest average teacher salaries are shown in Table 1.1 . California tops the list with $63,640; at the other end of the scale is South Dakota, with $35,378. Salaries in most northeastern states are higher than in other parts of the country. Connecticut and school districts like Rochester, New York, view teachers as professionals, have high expectations for them, support them through mentoring and professional development, use multiple assessments to determine teacher effectiveness, and pay salaries commensurate with other professionals. Salaries in the plains states west of the Mississippi River fall disproportionately in the bottom 20%.
Table 1.1 Average Teacher Salaries in 2006–2007
Source: DeCarlo, M., Johnson, N., & Cochran, P. (2008). Survey and analysis of teacher salary trends, 2007. Washington, DC: American Federation of Teachers. Printed with permission from American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO.
Most teacher contracts are for less than 12 months, but over 60% of the teachers earn additional income within the school or in summer or second jobs outside the school. Teacher’s report earning supplemental income above their contract by doing the following activities related to schools or their education:
· Serving as a mentor or staff developer
· Achieving additional teaching licenses or certifications
· Becoming national board certified
· Teaching in a subject area where there is a teacher shortage
· Improving student performance
· Working in a school more challenging to staff than other schools in the district
· Developing new skills/knowledge in non-university settings (NEA, 2003, p. 80)
Teachers also may receive supplemental income for chairing departments, being team leaders, sponsoring extracurricular activities, and coaching.
WHAT DO TEACHER EDUCATION CANDIDATES NEED TO DO?
The previous section of this chapter provided information regarding jobs, salaries, and expectations for being part of the teaching profession. This section will help clarify the purpose of teacher education programs and what you can do when you are enrolled. Knowing what is expected of you is one of the best ways to feel confident and to assure you get the most out of your classes and the clinical experiences you will have to complete.
How to Get Off to a Good Start in Your Teacher Education Program
Usually, people spend some time planning and charting a path before they embark on a journey. There are maps to read and places of interest to check out to see if a side trip is warranted. Some folks even develop strategies for getting the most out of every mile. Not much forethought is required for a trip to the supermarket, though a list is always helpful. But when committing to something that might be a benchmark in your life goal of becoming a teacher, planning is certainly essential.
Test of Basic Skills
Teacher candidates are usually required to pass a basic skills test before they are admitted to a teacher education program. Every teacher should be competent in the basic skills of reading, writing, and mathematics. These tests are designed to determine that future teachers have the basic knowledge and skills in these areas. So, in order to be admitted to the professional course work in a teacher education program, most states require that you demonstrate aptitude by achieving passing scores on basic skills tests. The Educational Testing Services (ETS) website at http://www.ets.org/praxis offers detailed information about taking a basic skills test. The ETS website also contains a drop-down menu for individual state testing requirements for licensure. The Pearson National Education Series website at http://www.pearsonassessments.com/ provides detailed information about their test services and how you can take exams at their test centers. Some states have developed their own tests of basic skills and other tests required for teacher licensure. Individual state test requirements and passing scores also can be found at state departments of education websites.
Learn About Assessment Practices
It is no longer enough to sit through the courses in a teacher education program to be eligible for a license to teach. You will be required to show evidence that you meet professional and state standards through a number of performance assessments throughout your program that demonstrate that you know your subject matter and can teach. These assessments are usually administered at admission to the program, before you can student teach, at completion of student teaching, and on completion of the program. The assessments include standardized paper-and-pencil tests, portfolios, case studies, evaluations of your student teaching or internship, comprehensive examinations at the end of the program, and projects. You will also be expected to show that you can help all students learn.
Your professors and field-based supervisors will evaluate your performance in the classroom on assessment rubrics that describe the areas you must reach to show you are proficient in the skills and knowledge to help all students learn. When you receive the feedback from the supervisors and professors, you will know where you need to improve your practice to meet the standards.
Pass Licensure Tests
Potential teachers in most states must pass one or more licensure tests to be eligible for a license to teach. States either develop their own licensure tests or contract with a major test company such as the Educational Testing Service (ETS) or Pearson National Education Series. A state board of education or standards board determines the cut score that test takers must achieve to pass the test. The score required to pass the same or similar tests varies from state to state. Your score could be high enough to be licensed in one state, but not in another. Ohio, Virginia, and Connecticut have set higher cut scores than other states as part of their effort to raise the quality of teachers in the state. Check with the state in which you plan to work to determine the tests you will be required to pass before you receive a license.
Content tests assess a candidate’s knowledge of the subject or subjects they will be teaching or the field in which they will be working (for example, English as a Second Language or special education). These tests generally assess the knowledge outlined in the state and professional standards for the field, which is another reason to be familiar with the standards. You should develop the knowledge bases for your field in the courses you have taken in the sciences, humanities, arts, psychology, and social sciences. Secondary and middle-level teacher candidates often major in the academic discipline they plan to teach. Some states require elementary teacher candidates to major or have a concentration in one or more academic fields such as social sciences, mathematics, science, a foreign language, or English. Are you required to have an academic, rather than education, major to be licensed in your state? Check out the state department of education website for this information.
Most states require new teachers to pass content tests before they receive the first license to teach. Many institutions require candidates to pass this test before they are eligible to student teach. Knowledge of the subject you teach and how you teach it may seem like the same sides of a coin, but they are truly quite different. It is possible to be an expert in a field and not be able to explain one bit of it to a group of students in a classroom.
Knowledge, Skills, Dispositions, and Student Learning
Knowledge is one of the easier areas to assess. The most popular assessment of knowledge is a standardized, pencil-and-paper test, which now is often completed on a computer. Teacher-developed quizzes and tests provide information on what is known or understood. Grades and your performance on papers, projects, presentations, and case studies contribute to the overall evaluation of the knowledge needed to teach.
Skills or performances are usually demonstrated as you collaborate with your peers, interact with your professors, and work with teachers and students in schools. Your skills can be observed and measured by how successful you are in helping students achieve on tests and other assessments. Field experiences and student teaching provide opportunities for you to apply your knowledge about a subject and pedagogy. You and others will assess your effectiveness in these settings. Although standardized assessments exist, they are relatively expensive to implement.
A few states require beginning teachers to complete Praxis III, in which trained assessors evaluate their performance as a first-year teacher against standards using a scoring rubric. Teacher education programs in those states emphasize the development of the skills assessed by Praxis III. Other states, like Connecticut, require their new teachers to submit a portfolio after their first year of teaching as evidence they are meeting state standards. At the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, at the end of the student teaching practicum elementary teacher education candidates present an ePortfolio to an audience of their peers and professors. Artifacts collected for the ePortfolio are tied to the InTASC standards.
Many teacher education programs have identified the dispositions that you should demonstrate before you become a teacher. They might include proficiencies such as these:
· The belief that all children can learn at high levels, which requires persistence in helping all children be successful
· Appreciating and valuing human diversity, showing respect for students’ varied talents and perspectives, and commitment to the pursuit of “individually configured excellence”
· Respecting students as individuals with differing personal and family backgrounds and various skills, talents, and interests
Video Link Watch a video about diversity.
These proficiencies cannot be easily measured on a test. They come across in the papers that you write, the presentations that you make, the lessons you teach, and your interactions with students and parents in schools. Over time and in multiple ways, your dispositions are demonstrated and assessed.
In most teacher education programs, you are expected to learn how to assess student learning and how to respond when a student is not learning. During student teaching, you most likely will be required to collect data on student learning, analyze those data, and determine next steps if one or more students are not learning. Figure 1.2 provides an example of an assessment exercise you may be asked to complete during student teaching. See Figure 1.3 for an example of a rubric that accompanies the student learning assessment.
Figure 1.2 Assessment for the Analysis of Student Learning in a Teacher Work Sample
Teacher Work Sample Standard: The teacher candidate uses assessment data to profile student learning and communicate information about student progress and achievement.
Task: Analyze your assessment data, including pre-/post-assessments and formative assessments to determine students’ progress related to the unit learning goals. Use visual representations and narrative to communicate the performance of the whole class, subgroups, and two individual students. Conclusions drawn from this analysis should be provided in the “Reflection and Self-Evaluation” section.
Prompt: In this section, you will analyze data to explain progress and achievement toward learning goals demonstrated by your whole class, subgroups of students, and individual students.
• Whole class. To analyze the progress of your whole class, create a table that shows pre- and post-assessment data on every student on every learning goal. Then, create a graphic summary that shows the extent to which your students made progress (from pre- to post-) toward the learning criterion that you identified for each learning goal (identified in your Assessment Plan section). Summarize what the graph tells you about your students’ learning in this unit (i.e., the number of students who met the criterion).
• Subgroups. Select a group characteristic (e.g., gender, performance level, socioeconomic status, language proficiency) to analyze in terms of one learning goal. Provide a rationale for your selection of this characteristic to form subgroups (e.g., girls vs. boys; high vs. middle vs. low performers). Create a graphic representation that compares pre- and post-assessment results for the subgroups on this learning goal. Summarize what these data show about student learning.
Source: Elliott, E., (2003). Assessing education candidate performance: A look at changing practices. Washington, DC: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. Reprinted with permission of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.
• Individuals. Select two students who demonstrated different levels of performance. Explain why it is important to understand the learning of these particular students. Use preformative and post-assessment data with examples of the students’ work to draw conclusions about the extent to which these students attained the two learning goals. Graphic representations are not necessary for this subsection.
Suggested Page Length: 4 + charts and student work examples
Source: Hussar, W. J., & Bailey, T. M. (2011). Projections of Education Statistics to 2020 (NCES 2011-026). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics.
Note: You will provide possible reasons for why your students learned (or did not learn) in the next section, “Reflection and Self-Evaluation.”
Figure 1.3 A Scoring Guide to Assess Student Learning
Teacher Work Sample Standard: The teacher candidate uses assessment data to profile student learning and communicate information about student progress and achievement.
Source: Elliott, E. (2003). Assessing education candidate performance: A look at changing practices. Washington, DC: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. Reprinted with permission of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.
You might be asked to design an assessment that will help you know whether students are learning. You might be given a sample of student work and asked to analyze it and describe any concerns raised by the student’s work. By the time you finish your program, you should be familiar with a number of assessments besides a test. You should also know that students learn in different ways, requiring that you teach using strategies that build on their prior experiences and cultures.
Pedagogical and Professional Knowledge Tests
Some states also require new teachers to pass another test that assesses general pedagogical and professional knowledge that teachers should have to manage instruction and students. This information is taught in courses such as educational foundations, educational psychology, multicultural education, tests and measurement, teaching methods, and the course that requires you to read this book. Your specialized knowledge about teaching and learning is assessed in this group of tests. They require you to know theories in education, the critical research that guides how to teach your subject, instructional strategies, the impact of diversity on learning, and the use of technology in teaching.
Schools are busy places full of happy people helping one another. New teachers should make a point to know and respect all the support staff at their school.
Spend Time in Schools
Most teacher education programs require candidates to observe and work in schools, often beginning with the first education course. You want to make sure you really like working with young children if you are planning to teach at the primary level or older adolescents if you are planning to teach high school. You can also learn whether you have the temperament to work with 30 students at a time or to maintain a schedule that requires you to be in a classroom with students for hours at a time without talking on your cell phone, texting, or having a snack. Field experiences confirm for most candidates that they really do want to teach. Others discover that teaching is not the job for them.
Learn to Be Comfortable in Schools
Most of us found the time we spent in school enjoyable, and we liked going to school. That was probably one reason we were drawn to teaching. Most times we got along well with our classmates and with our teachers. Teachers must be at school most days of the school year. The teachers we remember fondly are the ones that appeared to enjoy being at school. They were the ones who greeted everyone with a smile and shared a kind word or two with everyone they came in contact with. They appeared generally happy and happy to be sharing their days with others in a school.
The people who work in schools alongside teachers also appreciate friendly greetings and encouraging words. It is important to know the people who support your role as a teacher as they are often the ones you call for help when something nonacademic goes amiss.
When you are comfortable in the schools you are assigned to, when you know the people who work at the school and what their jobs are, when you show a positive regard for each member of the school team and exude a happy character, you will be comfortable in schools and help the people who work with you feel comfortable too.
Professional Development Schools
You may be assigned to a professional development school (PDS) for your field experiences and clinical practice. Teachers, teacher candidates, and college professors in a PDS collaborate to support student learning. They may team teach and take turns teaching, planning together, and supporting each other. After a few weeks of working together, students and parents often are not able to distinguish between the teacher, professor, and teacher candidate. One or more professors may spend most of their time in a PDS, working with the teacher and candidate in the classroom and providing professional development for faculty as needed.
School District/University Partnership Schools
These partnerships may appear similar to professional development schools given the collaboration that takes place between personnel in both institutions. The aim of a partnership between a university and a school district is to seek reform at all levels. This means that both members of the partnership have to learn to work in new ways. Institutional cultures may have to change, and while change is inevitable, it is not always welcomed. Forming a partnership is labor-intensive and not always perceived in the same way by all members of the partnership. The university teacher education curriculum may have to be revised to meet the specific needs of schools and students in a district. School structures may have to be redesigned to meet the goals of the partnership and the inclusion of teacher education candidates into the daily functions of the school. The achievement of K–12 students remain at the center of any reform effort of partnership schools as does the professional development of teachers and teacher candidates.
Shadow a student or a Teacher for a Day
Before you receive your first clinical assignment, make a concerted effort to spend a day in a school shadowing a student or a teacher. Shadowing students will help you see the school day through their perspective. Observe what work they are engaged in and how they negotiate the physical, mental, and social demands of being members of a class group. Take note of the kinds of interactions they have with other students and with the teacher. Learn how they keep track of all that is expected of them.
Shadowing a teacher will help you begin to understand what will be expected of you during a typical school day. Make an effort to keep track of the number of decisions teachers make, and what those decisions entail. Note the special routines and management strategies they have in place to keep track of the students, student work, and class and school schedules. Listen to the conversations they have with the students and with other teachers. Watch their work with an eye toward the roles you will perform when you begin teaching. It could be an eye-opening experience. If you hear students, parents, other teachers, and administrators refer to effective teachers, ask if you can visit their class to observe their interactions with the subject matter and with students.
Volunteer as a Teacher’s Aide or as a Tutor
To learn more about the work of teachers, volunteer to help out in a classroom or school. Teachers have scores of duties to address, before, during, and after class, and an offer of help from a well-meaning individual is always welcomed. Visit a school near your home, meet with the principal, and explain that you are studying to be a teacher and would like to have some experience working in a school as a volunteer. Your offer of help will certainly be met with enthusiasm.
There are many ways that you can develop skill when working with students. When starting out in your teacher education program, it is good to have experience working closely with one or two children. Tutoring is a great way to become familiar with students’ learning styles and to understand the difficulties some students have learning specific content. Tutoring programs at reading centers in colleges of education or in public libraries seek tutors for a variety of programs. Working as a tutor can help build your confidence and competence as a teacher.
Become a Member of a Teaching and Learning Team
You will have ample opportunity to discuss educational issues in your teacher education courses. You will learn of the theories underlying practice and discuss ways theories are demonstrated through teachers’ actions. While you are involved in your clinical practice, make an effort to join a teacher group and listen when teachers discuss teaching and learning issues and develop strategies for serving students. Take advantage of the expertise that can be gained from experienced teachers. Ask questions. When you visit schools as part of your field experience requirements, note effective teaching practices that you could incorporate into your own repertoire as you student teach and later have your own classroom.
To become effective teachers, we learn as we observe and practice. We test theories and strategies, expanding our repertoire of ways to help
students learn. With time we become more familiar with the subjects we teach and the students with whom we work. We become more
comfortable in the classroom as we understand the bureaucratic requirements of a school and become better managers of the classroom and
The Power of a Support Group During Clinical Practice
Even though teaching involves being with groups of students every day, it can be a lonely profession if teachers don’t make time to interact with one another in professional and personal settings. Sharing what works with colleagues and having them react and provide advice should be part of the culture of being a teacher. Other professions such as medicine and architecture require new graduates to practice as interns under the
tutelage of experienced doctors or architects during their first years of practice. In many regards, field experiences and student teaching are
intended to serve this purpose. Teachers who welcome teacher education candidates into their classrooms as co-teachers represent a special group who are not only experts in their profession but also eager give back to their profession by helping others
succeed. These teachers will guide you through the myriad dimensions of teaching. They will give you feedback on your teaching assignments and actively listen to your concerns. They become your colleagues in learning to laugh when the unexpected happens and to cheer you onward
when your steps may not be so sure. They are also responsible for making sure that you meet standards for clinical experience, so they will
expect your best effort and may admonish you when your performance is not acceptable. Be ready to accept constructive criticism and also the praise that will certainly be yours to enjoy.
Understand the Role of Your Mentor or Cooperating Teacher
Many years ago, the Harvard Business Review let the business community know that “Everyone Who Makes It Has a Mentor.” The article went
on to advise new members to business that if they didn’t have a mentor, they should go find one (Collins & Scott, 1978). Soon after this
pronouncement, the teaching profession began to look at what roles mentors to new teachers could provide, and a formal construct for
teaching was developed. Of course, experienced teachers who serve as mentors to beginning teachers have always been around even without being called mentors. Your
cooperating teacher is one of the mentors you will encounter on your journey to becoming a teacher. Other mentors may come in the form of
professors, relatives, colleagues, and friends. If you don’t seem to have a mentor, ask questions and one will magically appear.
How to Set the Stage for Success in Your First Teaching Job
There is so much you need to know before you enter the classroom that first day. It has been said that if you desire a perfect ending then the beginning must also be perfect. Your teacher education course work and clinical experience will program you for success in your first teaching job, but the guarantee that you will be more than ready rests solely on your shoulders. To paraphrase Eleanor Duckworth, an emeritus professor of
education at Harvard, you do not truly learn a thing until you understand it for yourself. All the lectures, all the assignments, all the visits to
schools will have not prepared you at all if you have merely gone through your program with your eyes on the degree at the end of the line. The best
way to be prepared for that first teaching job is to develop the habit of asking questions, reflecting on each new step you take, collaborating with others, and always trying to see the horizon through a perspective different from your own.
Is It Mr. or Mrs.?
Having already completed my master’s degree in elementary education, and not finding a permanent position in the previous summer, I turned my attention to working as much as possible in the schools of Johnson City as a substitute. In an attempt to meet and be known by as many
people as possible, I accepted a several-day position as a kindergarten teacher. My teaching license covered grades 1 through 6, but I thought my experience and general training could be easily adapted to kindergarten. In addition, I thought that the small class sizes and presence of a teacher assistant could alleviate any
potential problems that may arise.
For context, Johnson City had recently constructed one building to house its K–8 classes, eliminating the middle school and several aging neighborhood elementary schools. Within the school there were no male teachers in
the 30+ sections of K–3, nor were there any male administrators or office staff. Additionally, Johnson City sits on the confluence of the Susquehanna and Chenango
rivers in central New York. During the winter temperatures can easily dip below zero, and wind chills can cause dangerous situations if outside
too long. As a self-preservation technique I used to grow a full, black beard each winter.
On my first day I was immediately ushered into the world of the little ones. Having a substitute immediately gets them into hyper-mode, and having a male teacher creates some form of irreconcilable conflict in their minds. As the day progressed, we were having a productive experience, but one little boy kept referring to me as Mrs. G, instead of Mr. G. Normally, this isn’t a big deal, but he was a smart kid and was the only student to seem to have difficulty with the concept of his teacher being a man. The fact I was wearing a tie and had a full beard was of little consequence to him.
Finally, I pulled him aside and gently said “Buddy, I don’t know about your family but in mine it is the men who have beards, and we call them
mister.” After a few seconds of intense thought, he motioned for me to come closer to him and responded with “But my grandma has a mustache.” Out of sheer respect I let him call me Mrs. G for the rest of the time I was in the class.
Lloyd J. Goldberg, Teacher Third grade, Schorr Elementary Las Vegas, Nevada
Are there special characteristics that are predictors of one’s effectiveness as a teacher?
Many states allow some teachers to enter their first teaching job with little or no course work related to teaching and learning and no field
experiences in a school setting. Is it really not important for teacher candidates to understand the professional and pedagogical knowledge that provide the foundation for teaching? Are there any teacher characteristics that influence achievement gains of students?
Andrew J. Wayne and Peter Youngs (2003) of SRI International and Stanford University, respectively, reviewed studies that examined teachers’
characteristics and the standardized test scores of their students. The data reviewed were collected in the United States and accounted for
students’ prior achievement and socioeconomic status. The researchers found that a relationship exists between college ratings and student
achievement gains. This relationship implies that factors beyond licensure tests should be used by states in determining who should teach.
Institutional quality as determined by accreditation is a factor that should be considered. Studies indicated that
· students learn more from teachers with higher test scores (p. 100);
· high school students learn more mathematics when their mathematics teachers have additional degrees or coursework in mathematics
· (p. 103); and
· mathematics students learn more when their teachers have standard mathematic certification (pp. 105–106).
In the report of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, Solving the Dilemmas of Teacher Supply, Demand, and Standards:
How We Can Ensure a Competent, Caring, and Qualified Teacher for Every Child (2000), Linda Darling-Hammond stated:
One recent analysis found that, after controlling for student characteristics like poverty and language status, the strongest predictor of state-level student achievement in reading and mathematics on the NAEP [National Assessment of Educational Progress] was each state’s proportion of well-qualified teachers (as defined by the proportion with full certification and a major in the field they teach). … A strong negative predictor of student achievement was the proportion of teachers on emergency certificates. (p. 15)
Teacher licensure or certification requirements, which Darling-Hammond and others have found to be critical to student achievement, outline the content, professional, and pedagogical knowledge and skills expected of teachers in the state. These are the proficiencies that teacher candidates should develop in their teacher education programs.
Darling-Hammond, L. (2000). Solving the dilemmas of teacher supply, demand, and standards: How we can ensure a competent, caring, and qualified
teacher for every child. Washington, DC: National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future.
Wayne, A. J., & Youngs, P. (2003, Spring). Teacher characteristics and student achievement gains: A review. Review of Educational Research, 73
Understanding and Using Evidence
Licensure Test Scores
Each state sets the qualifying or cut score that test takers must achieve before they can receive a license to teach in the state. These scores
differ across states as shown below.
Your Task: Respond to the following questions:
1. What does this table tell you about becoming qualified in these eight states?
2. Why are scores not indicated for some states?
3. Why do some states require higher scores than others?
Source: Website of the Educational Testing Service (ETS) at http://www.ets.org/praxis/prxstate.html
One way to analyze test scores across states is to look for patterns. In the table below, the red highlights indicate the state(s) with the highest
qualifying score and the blue highlights indicate the state with the lowest qualifying score. In some cases, states have qualifying scores that are
close, but the range between high and low scores can be as much as 33 for elementary education for the states shown below.
Source: Website of the Educational Testing Service (ETS) at http://www.ets.org/praxis/prxstate.html
HOW DO YOU KEEP TRACK OF YOUR GROWTH AS A TEACHER?
As humans we are strangely programmed to keep track of changes in our environment and in ourselves. We track the weather, our weight, the
stock market, and the standing of our favorite football team. We even use almanacs to help us track events that will happen in the future. Teachers use benchmarks such as “surviving the first year,” “successfully completing a round of parent/teacher conferences,” and “having students
make adequate yearly progress on standardized exams,” to track their progress and to set personal standards for their continuous professional development. Teaching is replete with standards of all types. In addition to setting personal standards, it is a teacher’s responsibility to be
familiar with school district, state, and national standards at all levels.
Know the Standards
You may feel overwhelmed with standards, but if you can’t talk about standards during your job interview, you will not be the top candidate for
the job. Most schools have adopted a standards-based curriculum and provide their teachers with power standards and common core standards. It is not only the standards for the students you will be teaching that affect your work. The teacher education program in which you are enrolled should be standards based. Your program
should be preparing you to meet the InTASC standards mentioned earlier in this chapter. You are also expected to know the professional
standards for your field (for example, mathematics or early childhood education). Are you familiar with any of these standards?
New teachers should know the student standards for the subject they will be teaching. All states have developed student standards that indicate what students at different grade levels should know and be able to do in a subject area. The tests that students are required to take annually in mathematics, reading, writing, science, and social studies are based on the state standards. Many state standards are based on national
standards developed by national organizations such as the International Reading Association (IRA), National Council of Social Studies (NCSS), and American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). These standards provide a guide for what you should be teaching in those core
curriculum areas. They can be used to develop your own performance assessments to determine what students are learning. The state tests also provide feedback, although limited, on what students have learned. State standards can be accessed on the website of your state department of education.
National professional associations have also developed standards that describe what teachers should know and be able to do to teach a specific group of students (for example, English-language learners or students with disabilities) or a specific subject such as physical education. If teachers meet these standards, they should be able to help students meet the student standards.
After you have taught for three or more years, you may decide to apply for national board certification. The NBPTS standards expect accomplished teachers to do the following:
· Be committed to students and their learning.
· Know the subjects they teach and how to teach those subjects to students.
· Be responsible for managing and monitoring student learning.
· Think systematically about their practice and learn from experience.
· Be members of learning communities.
In addition to these general expectations, the NBPTS has standards for teaching each subject area for specific age levels such as early childhood, middle childhood, early adolescence, and young adulthood. Your teacher education program will help you develop the foundation to meet these standards later in your career. A number of colleges and universities have redesigned their master’s degrees to reflect these standards and help teachers become nationally certified.
There is no time like the present to start down the path toward successful teaching. Take advantage of the assignments and experiences you are required to complete, always thinking about how they relate to the subject or students you will be teaching next week or in a few years. In the activities at the end of each chapter in this book, you are provided opportunities to apply your knowledge to the realities of classrooms and
schools. These activities can be incorporated into a portfolio of your work that will show your growth as you learn how to teach over the next
year or two and can be used later during your interview for a job.
Begin a Portfolio
A portfolio is a collection of your work, including papers, projects, lesson plans , and assessments. It serves many purposes. During your program, the artifacts (that is, the documents and presentations) in your portfolio show your growth as a teacher from the first education course you take to completion of the program. Your written papers may have been submitted as part of your coursework, or they may be written reflections of
your experiences working with students. They show that you understand a particular topic in your field and your ability to analyze issues and
classroom situations as well as your writing skills.
Lesson plans, which you will develop later in the program as a detailed guide for your instruction of a topic, show that you understand the
subject that you are teaching and that you can select appropriate instructional strategies for helping students learn. Evaluations of your field
experiences and student teaching by your school and university supervisors provide evidence of your effectiveness in the classroom. Samples of student work related to the lessons you teach along with your analysis of the student work, and reflections on how effective your teaching was and what you would do differently the next time, provide evidence that you have the knowledge, skills, and dispositions critical to a teacher’s
work. The artifacts in your portfolio can serve as evidence that you meet state and professional standards that were discussed earlier in this
Like architects and artists, new teachers select examples of their best work for portfolios to be presented at job interviews. These portfolios
should also include demographic information that present your credentials: a résumé, transcripts, child abuse clearance, criminal background
clearance, and teaching license (Netterville, 2002). Any awards or honors that you have received should be added to this portfolio. Letters of
recommendation from faculty and/or your supervising teachers should be included along with any letters of appreciation or commendations
from parents or students.
Maintaining a digital record of professional growth and achievements is one-way teachers can document their careers and share information with others.
You may not be asked to present a portfolio until you are further along in your program. However, the task of compiling a portfolio will be much easier if you begin now to collect and organize your papers, projects, evaluations, and student work. You may be surprised to see your own growth over time. Technological advances have made the creation of digital portfolios commonplace. One advantage to the electronic portfolio is
that it provides you the opportunity to highlight your technology skills—one of the requirements of many standards. To assist you in beginning your portfolio, each chapter in this book suggests one or two tasks for
Reflect on Your Observations and Practice in Schools
Reflection, a valued skill in teaching, allows you to think about the effects of your choices and actions on students, parents, and other professionals in the learning community. According to Kottler, Zehm, and Kottler (2005), reflection is among the most important missions of a teacher. It is an extremely complex and demanding process that requires a lifetime of dedication. Portfolios may include papers in which teacher candidates
reflect on their practice in the classroom. The papers show that candidates think about what works and what doesn’t in the classroom.
Reflective teachers can articulate why they chose one instructional method over another, analyze the effectiveness of the approach when they
use it, and choose another approach for a student who did not learn.
Early in your program, you will be observing teachers and working with small groups of students rather than teaching. However, you can begin to develop your Reflection skills in both these school settings and activities in your college classroom. One popular process is the maintenance of
journals in which you summarize your thoughts about and reactions to the major things you observed or experienced in a class or school.
Journal entries should be brief, candid, and personal. You should record how you were affected by the events and why. You may be surprised,
angry, puzzled, delighted, or apathetic. You may not believe what you are reading or seeing. You may want to step in and change something. You may have learned a new strategy for accommodating the needs of a student with disabilities. The journal allows you to regularly record (usually daily or weekly) your reflections on what you are learning. As you read your journal later, you will see how your thoughtful reflections helped
you define your own teaching. The section at the end of each chapter, “Being Thoughtful About Becoming a Teacher,” provides suggestions for
topics you could address in journal entries related to the chapter.
Deeper Look Read an overview of teacher Reflection and teacher learning.
Begin Collaborating with Peers and Professors
One way to help you determine whether you want to teach is to talk and work with teachers and other school professionals. You will begin to
get a better sense of what it is like to be a teacher rather than a student. Ask them why they chose a particular lesson, responded to one student differently than all of the others, and used a particular assessment. Be helpful to the teachers you are observing when they ask for assistance.
You should begin to develop your collaborative skills as you work with other candidates and professors on campus. You are likely to be assigned
to work with your peers on group activities. These activities provide you the opportunity to be a leader in planning and delivering papers and
presentations. To be successful, you will have to work with people with whom you have many common experiences and others with whom you have little in common. You may have to assist others, and sometimes do some of their work for the good of the team. When you are in the
classroom, you will find similar dilemmas as you work with other teachers. You may also have a better understanding of the group dynamics of
students when you assign them to group work in the classroom. It is wise to begin now to learn to collaborate with professional colleagues. In a year or two or three you will be amazed at where your journey to become a teacher has taken you.
CONNECTING TO THE CLASSROOM
This chapter has provided you with some basic information about the need for qualified teachers, where the jobs are, how to become licensed, and some of the circumstances you might encounter during your first few years of teaching. Below are some key principles for applying the
information in this chapter to the classroom.
1. Effective teachers make a difference in student learning.
2. Professional teachers are responsible for the well-being of their clients (students).
3. Mentoring of new teachers is a critical factor in the retention of teachers in the profession.
4. A school’s curriculum will be guided by the state or school district’s standards for students.
5. Teacher standards identify the key knowledge, skills, and disposition that teachers should demonstrate in the classroom.
6. The collection of your work in a portfolio should provide evidence that you have met standards and that you can help students in your
Five major points were discussed in this chapter.
· Teaching is a challenging profession that requires its members to be very knowledgeable, skillful, and in possession of the necessary
· disposition for working with students.
· The rewards of teaching can be both intrinsic and extrinsic, as teachers help students acquire knowledge and develop skills.
· Teacher education candidates need to become familiar with standards for PreK–12 students and standards for teachers, and to demonstrate competency in content areas through performance on standardized tests.
· Teacher education candidates need to spend time in schools observing experienced teachers and working with students.
· Activities that contribute to a teacher’s development include the initiation of a portfolio, reflection on one’s practice, and collaboration with colleagues.
CLASS DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
1. Some policymakers are attacking teachers as standing in the way of reforming schools. They argue that teachers do not want to be held
2. accountable for student learning. Some teachers argue that the state and federal governments do not provide them adequate
3. resources to make it possible for them to help children achieve academically and learn the skills they will need to be successful and productive citizens. Some teachers feel that the accountability measures imposed by policymakers stifle their creative
4. abilities as teachers. Who do you think is to blame for students not learning? How accountable do you think teachers should be
for student learning? How should teachers be held accountable?
2. This chapter suggests that teacher education candidates should be able to show evidence that they meet the InTASC standards. Why is it
necessary for teachers to possess the knowledge, skills, and dispositions identified in these standards? Which of the InTASC standards do you
personally find most important? Why?
3. Do you consider teaching a profession similar to law and medicine? Why? Why not?
4. Why is it important to track your professional growth during your teacher education program? How can tracking your growth as a professional help you in the future?
WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT LEVEL OF UNDERSTANDING AND THINKING ABOUT BECOMING A TEACHER?
One of the indicators of understanding is to examine how complex your thinking is when asked questions that require you to use the concepts and facts introduced in this chapter.
Answer the following questions as fully as you can. Then use the Complexity of Thinking rubric below to self-assess the degree to which you understand the complexities of becoming a teacher.
1. How would you explain to someone who was not an educator why teaching is a profession?
2. Why is it important for teachers to possess specific knowledge and skills?
3. How can a teacher’s competency in a content area be assessed?
4. When should someone who is a teacher candidate begin collecting artifacts about their professional growth? Why?
|Complexity of Thinking Rubric|
|Parts & Pieces||Unidimensional||Organized||Integrated||Extensions|
talked about as
isolated and independent
names are provided
|One or a few concepts
while others are
or not mentioned.
of all keys
|All key concepts/
elements are included
in a view that
|Integration of all
elements and dimensions,
to new situations.
|Some reasons and
skills are provided
with little or no
between or among
a teacher in
knowledge of content
|Offers a holistic view of
the many facets of
becoming a teacher
a teacher and teaching
STUDENT STUDY SITE
Visit the Student Study Site at www.sagepub.com/hall to access links to the videos, audio clips, and Deeper Look reference materials noted in
this chapter, as well as additional study tools including eFlashcards, web quizzes, and more.
for Learning More About to Becoming a teacher
A field guide is a book or pamphlet someone can take with them when they are exploring their surroundings. The term field guide is generally
used to help people identify wildlife or other objects in nature. In biology, field guides are designed to help the reader identify specific birds, plants, or fish by studying their features and characteristics. Field guides can help people distinguish one object from another that might look similar but is not.
In this text, the term field guide is a metaphor. The activities described at the end of each chapter will help guide you through your investigations of the foundations and purposes of schooling in America. In a sense, you will be creating your own field guide of evidence of teaching and
student learning. As a field biologist would do, you should take field notes as you complete the activities outlined for you at the end of each
chapter. These notes should include facts and descriptions of your observations. Your field notes should also include date, time of day, the grade or group you are observing, and your reflections and aha moments. Keeping such detailed data is a form of journaling.
Persons engaged in field work also collect artifacts such as pictures and samples of what they are studying. John James Audubon (1785–1851), an American woodsman, completed more than 400 life-size paintings of birds in his expeditions into the field. You will not be expected to collect a specific number of items or even attempt paintings of the classrooms you visit, but you should have evidence of teaching behavior, student responses, and school organization and culture.
Once you have become comfortable in schools and in the classroom, you should begin to compile your field notes into a portfolio—a collection of evidence of your growth toward becoming a teacher. Each chapter in this text will introduce field guide activities such as
observing the school and classroom environment, specific portfolio tasks, and journaling activities. When you complete each of the suggested
activities you will have ample evidence that you have a thorough understanding of schooling in America.
Ask a teacher or Principal
Ask one new and one experienced teacher to recall their first year of teaching. If they could start over, what would they do differently? What
had they been well prepared to handle when they first entered the classroom? What were their greatest challenges? What recommendations do they have for making your first year successful? What amusing stories do they have to tell?
Make Your Own Observations
Both teachers and students are expected to meet standards in today’s schools. The NBPTS states that teachers should be committed to students and their learning, know the subjects they teach and how to teach those subjects, be responsible for managing and monitoring student learning, think systematically about their practice, learn from experience, and be members of learning communities. For one of your next visits to a school, select one of these five expectations and record evidence that you see of teachers in the school demonstrating that expectation.
Reflecting Through Journaling
Begin an entry in your journal about why you want to teach. Why do you want to teach a specific subject? Why do you want to teach at the
preschool, elementary, middle, or high school level? Where would you like to teach when you complete your program? Why do you want to
teach in a specific location? What adult, if any, had an influence on your decision to teach? As you observe and work in schools over the next few years, you may want to revisit your reasons for teaching and update them based on your new experiences.
Build Your Portfolio
Many people report that a teacher has made a great difference in their lives. Write a short paper on the influence one or more teachers have
made on your life. Describe what the teacher did in the classroom that impressed you. Begin to develop a list of characteristics of teachers who made a difference. Later you can return to this paper to determine if you are developing the same characteristics in yourself as the teachers you admired.
Learn the standards for teaching in your state. Make a list of the proficiencies related to knowledge, skills, and dispositions that you are
expected to demonstrate in the classroom. When, during your field experiences, you achieve one of these standards, place a check mark by the
standard and indicate how you know that you have achieved the proficiency (for example, the assessment used and your score). As you
progress through your teacher education program, continue to add check marks until all the standards are met. This exercise will help you
become very familiar with the standards and will also be tangible proof of how much you have learned.
Read a Book
In Why We Teach, by Sonia Nieto (2005; New York, NY: Teachers College Press), experienced and new teachers share the reasons they find
purpose and value in teaching. They discuss the kinds of learning that really matter, and the kinds of lessons students can take with them for their entire lives. This inspirational book focuses on the quintessential values of teaching and challenges current issues of accountability and testing.
New and experienced teachers offer practical guidance for beginning a teaching career in The New Teacher Book: Finding Purpose, Balance, and Hope During Your First Years in the Classroom, edited by Terry Burant, Linda Christensen, Kelley Dawson Salas, and Stephanie Walters (2010;
Milwaukee, WI: Rethinking Schools), a collection of writings. Teachers reflect on classroom management, curriculum, discipline, and the students.
Search the Web
Visit http://www.ccsso.org/ntoy/National_Teachers.html to see examples of National Teachers of the Year.
For other reports of effective teachers, visit the website of Recruiting New Teachers ( http://www.rnt.org/channels/clearinghouse/whyteach/default.htm ).
State licensure requirements can be accessed from the state agency in which you are interested at the Recruiting New Teachers’ (RNT) website ( http://www.rnt.org/channels/clearinghouse/deptedu.asp ) or from the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education ( http://www.nasdtec.org ).
See the website of the National Education Association (NEA; http://www.nea.org/home/30442.htm ) for an example of a code of ethics. You should become familiar with the code of ethics in your state and school district.
If you are not familiar with the standards that you must meet in your teaching field, you can access them at http://www.ncate.org/standard/programstds.htm or the website of your professional association.
For additional information on the licensure tests and study guides, visit the websites of the two major testing companies ( http://www.ets.org or http://www.nesinc.com/ ). You will need to check with your state to determine the tests you will be required to pass.
Additional web resources include
http://www.nasdtec.org —Information on licensure requirements and state agencies responsible for teacher licensing are available on this website of the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification.
http://www.edweek.org —The website of Education Week includes statistics on education and the latest news on educationa