Who is your child’s teacher? Do you have a fully prepared, appropriately credentialed teacher, or do you have a fast-tracker, a person who didn’t learn much about children, who maybe knows a subject, but essentially nothing about how children learn? Is your child’s teacher more concerned about raising test scores and collecting data than how to bring out your child’s best personal qualities?
Teaching, real teaching, is both an art and a science. To be a great teacher, you need to spend more time learning than a five week boot camp where you hear about test-taking and are bombarded with pep talks. It takes more than a year to learn how to be a good teacher too.
Colleges of Education, and those who attend them, have been criticized. Some of these schools rightly needed to improve, and others have been drained of funding, like our public schools, turned into shells of an institution. But these schools fulfilled an important purpose in the past. There were good teacher schools. I know. I attended three of them.
Unfortunately, almost all of these schools have been condemned in recent years. Those who want to privatize public schools, want to make it easy to fire teachers and create a workforce they can control.
We really do need to honestly evaluate teacher ed. programs and make them better. But with Gates and all the other rich business venture philanthropists, less is better. They don’t seem to understand that a critical teaching pedagogy does exist. And, without it, you are just not a teacher, no matter how you pretend.
And having a fast-tracker move onward and upward into a leadership education position is really ridiculous, for they know little about children and their development and education. They have never studied any of the critical information necessary to make informed decisions affecting children and their schools. Sadly, we have a lot of these faux experts today, in high level education positions, doing serious damage to schools and undermining student learning.
Every parent should wonder about the teacher who is teaching their child. Ask your child’s teacher—where did you come from? Just who are you?
Here are some sample questions for your child’s teacher/s:
- Did you earn a teaching degree at an accredited university? Be wary of for-profit colleges and totally online (outside of the real universities) and Teach for America types.
- What are your credentials? If you have a teacher credentialed in chemistry teaching students with autism, be concerned.
- How long did you study teaching? It should be two to three years–and more is a plus.
- Why did you become a teacher? Was it a career choice, or were there no jobs in the person’s chosen field? Did they go on to learn how to be a good teacher?
- Where did you student teach? Student teaching is often overlooked. A teacher should have student taught in a reputable school with a real credentialed teacher supervisor in their area.
- Did you take coursework about, study and get experience with this age group? Teaching middle school is a lot different than teaching kindergarten.
- Do you endorse Common Core State Standards? If you are a parent you need to know this upfront.
- How long do you plan on teaching? Is this teacher planning on teaching for a while, or are they temporary? It really does make a difference.
- Did you take any coursework pertaining to child development and child psychology? Every teacher should understand the developmental and psychological development of the children they work with, or they may mistake perfectly normal behavior as problematic.
- How many courses did you take to learn how to teach reading? To diagnose reading difficulties? This is a critical question for teachers in elementary school.
- How many courses and what experience do you have to specifically teach this subject?
- How did you learn behavior management? What is your disciplinary plan?
- How do you work with mainstreamed students with disabilities? How will these students be included in the classroom? It is important to know that if it is an inclusion situation, the regular ed. teacher has support.
- What is the emergency plan in the classroom in case of fire, earthquake, tornado, etc.? Do you know first aid?
- How will you update me on my student’s progress, problems?
Don’t forget to ask about the class size. If you think it is too large, get together with other parents and complain to the principal and the school board. And do this too, even if your child is in high school. I recently heard of a high school teacher who taught upwards to 200 students!
Ask teachers also whether they are getting needed resources and materials. Ask them what they need in regard to what they are teaching, and, importantly, join the PTA! Parents and teachers working together make the difference in a school. Fighting against harmful reforms doesn’t work without organization and camaraderie.
And, if you are a teacher with a real degree, from a real accredited university, now is the time to get it framed beautifully and hang it on your classroom wall with pride—over your desk for the world to see! If you have a Masters and/or a PhD hang those degrees up too. Don’t make parents ask for the above information. If you are a real teacher, with honest credentials, let parents know who you are.
Real teachers matter—don’t let anyone tell you they don’t!