Professors Are Not Teaching Teachers How to Teach
Teaching is not like other jobs. Some people just have a natural talent and desire to be teachers, while some who believe they want to be teachers fail miserably. Education is something people have to get into for the passion and love of the job or else they will be miserable. There's no manual on how to be the perfect teacher, and much of the learning process comes from experience. So it's not surprising that time during college is not where most of a teachers' knowledge comes from. Unfortunately, in my experience, I have found that college is sub-par in giving prospective educators even the most basic information on being a teacher.
I entered a college in fall of 2006 as a social studies education major with a concentration in history. I realized that content is also an important part of the curriculum, but was expecting many classes on education as well. I believed that I was going to be taught how to be a teacher. My first year was all general courses as well as some history courses sprinkled in. My first semester of my sophomore year was when I had my first education related course. It was a three-credit course on educational psychology. I found this class to be very informative and helpful, but with no prior background or immediate use for the content, it was empty. It was just getting through a course for a grade, although it should most likely be paired with another later course in order to use it to our benefit.
The very next semester I had another education course. It was the media portion of the education curriculum. It covered making good PowerPoint presentations, using Excel for gradebooks, writing rudimentary lesson plans, and other very general tasks. I would say that it was a nice introduction to that type of material except that every section of this course was taught differently. My professor gave us a handbook and let us work independently. I finished the course in seven weeks just using the handbook. These different teaching styles gave us huge problems later in our undergraduate study, which I will come back to later.
Again, the following semester I had only one education course which was only one day a week. The course covered educating exceptional students in an inclusive classroom setting. The instructor was a special education teacher for a local school district, not a professor. While she was a sweet lady, she allowed us to do things as though we were in elementary school. Another problem with this class was how she would ask us how to a handle a situation in a classroom or come up with adaptive activities to use on students with certain disabilities. These exercises were ineffective due to our lack of experience in the classroom or with any substantial teaching related courses.
The next required course in the social studies education undergraduate degree is a one-credit course on school law. Anyone who has ever been interested or involved in law will know that a one-credit class is not sufficient to cover legal issues within the school system. Luckily, the class only involved reading prominent course cases from the past involving the education system and writing responses to the lawsuit and the decision at the end. Again, this is another example of a class that needs to be paired with something else farther along the course of study in order to be effective. Also, learning background and important general school laws would be beneficial.
Finally, during the second semester of my junior year was I enrolled in not one, but two education courses, and also one involved some experience out in a school. One class was three-credits and focused on assessment of student learning. It was a useful class that finally taught students something important relating to testing students. Many of the lessons taught were points that I had never thought of before when it came to testing. It showed us how to effectively ask questions, maintain validity and reliability, and showed different ways to grade. I learned information I consider valuable and will continue to revisit information from that course to be an effective assessor of my students learning. The class that I had been waiting for, however; was my pre-student teaching clinical experience course. I had been expecting to really start learning the "nitty-gritty" of it all in this course, considering I'm nearing completion of my undergraduate degree. I should have known I would be wrong when it turned out to be a one-credit course that only met once a week.
I was surprised and disappointed to learn that the course was nothing like what I hoped it would be. I believed that this course was where they started teaching teachers how to teach, but I was wrong. My professor kept telling us that, "this course was designed for students to be able to get some experience and decide whether teaching is what they would really like to do." Unfortunately, "gaining some experience" meant going to a school for one week, just one, and sitting in the back of the class observing. The entire course was 70% graded on write ups on what we had witnessed while observing the class. I was one of the lucky students, my cooperating teacher (who graduated from my college and admitted the blatant lack of how-to-teach teaching) allowed me to grade students papers and enter them into his computer gradebook. Otherwise, I would have just been sitting in the back of a room all day, observing four of the same class, two of another, and one of a different class. If they really wanted this class to be the one to make sure this is the correct career for us, perhaps they should offer it sooner into the persons' college career. I was one semester away from being a senior when I took this course. Had this one course opened my eyes to the fact that I did not actually fit the teacher persona, I would have been setting myself back at least two years in college. Not to mention that we did not learn anything in this class that would even remotely assist in deciding on teaching as a profession. The professor did give us lesson plan assignments as well. She gave us a template and said, "write a geography lesson plan for 7th graders," and didn't explain any further. She did mention that most students fail the lesson plan the first time before she allows for a re-write.
I return now to the issue with the media course. The eventual outcome of the media course was the beginnings of an electronic portfolio with which we needed to update after the first clinical experience course. Unfortunately, each student out of my nine person class had been given different requirements on the electronic portfolio. Some were required to include a resume and transcripts, others were not. Some were required to scan copies of their clearances, others were not. Some had to write about technology standards, some did not. It became a huge mess because the professor we had for class would grade our portfolios and take off huge points for items we were missing, when in reality, we had never been required to enter such information anyway. So other than the media course being a complete sham from the beginning, it was now a complete sham that gave everyone in the class and the professor nightmares and headaches.
Next semester will begin my senior year. My two teaching courses are pre-student teaching II clinical experience and methods. The second half to my pre-student teaching is yet again, only one week in a classroom. Most of it will be spent observing, but the last day is a required day of teaching. So out of seven semesters of college, my experience prior to student teaching will consist of one day. One day of teaching something that I haven't been working with the kids on at all. It will be not watching a television series that has been on for five years, watching three episodes, and then trying to explain the entire premise to a large group on the following day. The class is with the same professor that didn't teach us anything the first time and again, only meets once a week. The methods course is my last hope. If methods does not look into teaching me how to teach, I will be officially on my own.
Coming into this, I thought that there would be a lot more learning how to be a teacher than there is. I had to take 54 credits worth of content courses and only 17 credits in the education area before student teaching. I worry about my lack of knowledge and experience when it comes to student teaching in January. The curriculum for an education major needs to be completely revitalized in order to produce high quality teachers. I feel as though I have been deprived a good education. If you want to know about did my homework in 24 hours feel free visite link.