Ran into a blog from the Washington Post with this item:
I’m actually on the “provide resources” side on this argument. When I started teaching boarding school, my department had a “course coordinator” for each course, who provided me with a complete set of homework sets and lessons for the year. It was a huge help – the job is overwhelming, and teaching is by far not the biggest part of the job. Having that out of the way allowed me a little time to breathe. I went on to designing my own courses basically the next term, but I also had a lot of experience teaching before I ever started that job.
I do believe that everyone needs to create their own course and tailor it to their students, but training wheels are a huge help when you’re swamped in that painful first year. Sometimes it’s the folks with no idea of how to proceed who come up with the most amazing new methods. Other times, they drop out of the profession. I think we need to keep more teachers.
How to provide teachers with course resources is a good question, though. The suggestion that there is one single lesson plan that works out of millions, or a “best possible lesson plan for each subject” is just wrong. Again, teachers need to tailor their lessons to their students and to their own strengths, and a pre-fab lesson only does that by happenstance. Perhaps schools could provide an active mentor, or a co-teacher – pair experienced teachers with inexperienced new folks. Most mentor situations I’ve seen simply don’t work; you need someone who gets involved every single day. I realize that this won’t happen because of money issues, but it does seem to me that it would be better for the quality of education. Evolutionary pressure strikes again.
I should also note that this adds to a growing pile of anecdotes I’ve heard about Teach for America basically just tossing unprepared teachers into the deep end. I’m less and less enamored of this organization.