I too was certified after earning my degree. I have a BSSS in Political
Science, and am certified as Elementary/Elementary Social Studies. (I'm the
elementary person at the museum; we also have a teacher who has a master's
degree and is certified art all levels). When I received my certification, I
found all but one methods class to be useless. Reading was exposing the
kids to real literature and teach decoding skills but no way of actually
doing this. Math/Science - make sure that everything you teach has a real
life purpose then spent 2 Tuesday/Thursday classes learning how to do other
bases. I asked the professor what real life purpose any bases other than
base 2 (binary systems of computer) and base 10 (0ur mathematical system)
served. Answer - non-it just makes you grateful for base 10. I told him if
humans had evolved with 12 fingers and toes we would love base12, and that
he should obey his own rules. (One of these days my mouth is going to get me
in trouble) The Social Studies practicum was great she taught us with real
life examples like when she was teaching on a Reservation and the kids
couldn't get map directions. She talked to their parents found out that in
this culture there were 6 directions given N,S,E,W, up and down. She took
the map off the wall orientated on the floor to north and it clicked with
the kids. She shared the heartbreak of not being able to get CPS to take
action and save an abused child. The second half of the semester was spent
address our concerns.
That said I think the biggest improvement that can be made to teacher
preparation across the board is to make it more professional. Something like
a 5 - 6 year plan. Teachers would get degrees in content areas (not sure
exactly how this would work with early childhood and the elementary
generalist except they would take psychology classes on child development it
addition to content area), and then get certified. The certification process
would include some methods classes, but more time in the schools working
with teachers and kids. Think the equivalent of a teaching hospital, but in
a school. Maybe clerking in a law firm would be a better example. The
teachers in training would spend part of this time aiding teachers and
augmenting programs, as they got a chance to hone their skills before moving
into student teaching then on to their own classrooms.
This would serve two purposes in improving the situations in our school.
Right off the bat it would lower the kid to adult ratio in our schools. Also
it could elevate our profession in the eyes of the public (if we did it
right). I actually had someone tell me that teachers were not professors,
because they only go to collage for 2 years. She (this person is in her
eighties) actually thought there were still 2-year teacher collages
operating here in Texas!
Ok, now is time for those of you outside the US to step up to the plate. I
know teachers in other countries command more respect that those here do.
How do you become a teacher in your country? What are the requirements? How
much exposure to the classroom with real kids do you have before getting
your own classroom? Lets hear from you.
Kimberly Herbert (firstname.lastname@example.org)
San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts/Children's Art Museum