Panel: Teacher preparation needs overhaul

Reshaping teacher preparation courses can not only enhance student learning, but also keep the U.S. competitive globally, many experts agree.

Today’s digital-age students are expected not only to communicate effectively, think critically, and collaborate with one another, but also to analyze information while meeting rigorous state and national benchmarks.

To meet these challenges, teacher preparation programs must be reexamined and restructured in order to promote what digital learning consultant Mary Ann Wolf calls “learner-centered education.”

“Learner-centered education dramatically impacts the work of educators and educational systems, and schools must empower teachers to apply their pedagogical knowledge, instructional skills, and digital tools and resources to meet the needs of individual students,” Wolf wrote in a recent Alliance for Excellent Education (AEE) report.

Wolf said she believes a teacher must embody several roles to attain success: facilitator of learning; user of data and assessments; collaborator, contributor, and coach with peers; and curriculum adapter and designer.

Based on AEE’s research, Wolf said teacher preparation courses must address the teaching of specific curriculum content, while also aligning with school improvement priorities and goals. Creating a collaborative network of teachers through teacher preparation courses is especially critical, she added.

Barnett Berry, president and CEO of the Center for Teaching Quality and author of Teaching 2030, agreed.

“We need to have a teacher [preparation] system that fuses the resources of both universities and school districts,” Berry said in a recent AEE webinar. He said community-based organizations should be partners as well, because this will allow “the kind of seamless preparation [and] induction support of lifelong teachers” that is necessary.

(Next page: Key challenges to digital-age teacher preparation—and how to overcome these)

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