Teacher education programs have come under fire lately. Even the Secretary of Education and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) have called for teacher education programs to be “turned upside down in this country.”
The vast majority of new teachers come through traditional education programs. I’m sure many of them need to be turned upside down to meet the challenge of preparing teachers in the 21st century. But Anne O’Brien, the deputy director of the Learning First Alliance, points out in a recent blog two programs that should be recognized for their innovative approach.
The University of Florida’s College of Education works with communities to offer teacher-trainees field experience while providing individual instruction to needy students. In Minnesota, St. Cloud State University is using a co-teaching model to give teacher-trainees classroom experience under the leadership of master teachers.
It might be tempting to write off colleges of education as archaic and out of step with current education trends. That conclusion might lead policy makers to dedicate resources toward alternative preparation programs, but I submit that we shouldn’t do that. There appears to be a number of programs that are developing innovative ways to ensure teachers are ready to teach effectively.