What makes a good teacher preparation program?


Often, new teachers are thrown into sink-or-swim settings with high likelihood of failure, because new teachers report that they feel alone in their first few years of teaching, Carroll said. But connecting new teachers to support through their former teacher preparation programs and through experienced teachers and the community can make a world of difference.

If new teachers are involved in their communities as “learning navigators,” Carroll said, they can plan their own successful entry into the profession.

“Faculty need to model this not only for their students, but with their students, becoming co-creators of content,” he said. “The future role of a teacher is to be a learning facilitator and a learning navigator.”

“The notion of developing educators who are ready for the realities of practice on Day 1 is a different kind of challenge for us now,” said Sharon Robinson, president of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE). “Teachers will enter an environment where they will become partners to and parties to an effort to improve practice. So our candidates must come in ready to implement practice where they are.”

AACTE has made progress in several areas so far, including having teaching candidates with strong qualifications, making clinical preparation a part of all programs, and striving for programs to implement performance-based exit measures.

Persistent challenges, Robinson said, include the fact that it is difficult to collect data on graduates of teacher preparation programs, the underproduction of teachers in key subjects and areas, and the fact that the demographics of the teaching professional don’t reflect preK-12 student demographics.

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“How do we keep our candidates in touch with data to understand the impact they’re having on student learning?” Robinson asked. Teaching candidates must be able to collect, analyze, and act on student data, she said, and they must demonstrate the necessary competencies to accomplish these steps.

“Teacher preparation actually gets underway well before people are engaged in the [teacher preparation] program,” said Charles Coble, co-founder and partner of Teacher Preparation Analytics. “It is not over on graduation day. Teacher colleges actively seek to be a part of teacher preparation … and technology is really how that’s going to happen.”

Tools and technologies that can keep teacher candidates, teachers, and those working in teacher preparation programs informed will be essential, as will be tools that help teachers analyze classroom lessons and collaborate.

It’s especially important to “maintain a continuing relationship with teacher candidates as they exit universities and move into the teaching profession,” Coble said.

“Good digital technology will support efforts that keep people linked. We are wise to collect that information and act on that information, but we have to have the data systems to do that.”

Laura Ascione
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