I think it can’t be argued when someone says the key to students’ success is highly qualified teachers. Teachers, in my state anyway, are required to have a Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. Most, if not all, teacher training programs in college come with explicit teaching about how to be a teacher (you would think – duh! – but maybe not by the end of the post) and also with practicum experience.
So brand new teachers begin a career with some experience and they know what they are doing. Veteran teachers know so much more. However, schools like mine are flooded with young teachers who leave the teacher career after a few years. I am not knocking new blood. I remember being that new, young blood. I think obviously the best mix is a mix, but veteran teachers are leaving, too. Therefore, in schools like mine, there is booming a staff made up of rotating new teachers who burn out quickly and then new suckers take their place.
There are also teachers like the Math Lab tutors in our school. Read about it here. Overqualified and meant to be a add on to great teachers, not at all a replacement. And then there are Teach for America teachers. They are like peace corps volunteers and they can be amazing teachers, but they are not the answer either. Teaching in urban schools should not be viewed as a charity volunteer effort that you do for a few years. It should not be viewed as your time in the jungle doing your coming of age daring mission. It should be a highly desired career.
People going to college with a dream of being a teacher full time, studying, and then going into a life long career where they feel pride, that’s the answer. And that can be the case in urban schools. These band aides need to stop being administered and something needs to be done to attract real and really good life long teachers to the field.
We are in a crisis right now. I said in this post here that there are no real good ole days but we need to combine the old feeling of what it meant to be a teacher, a desirable, honorable job, with stripping some of this extra extra that has been put on teachers and giving them more support.