Teaching Skills for the Future (page 2)
Whether you pursue a graduate or undergraduate teacher education program, the main thing you expect your program to do is prepare you to succeed as a teacher. The criteria listed below, from the American Association of School Personnel Administrators (AASPA) publication Teacher of the Future: A Continuous Cycle of Improvement, will help you evaluate teacher education programs, whether they are graduate or undergraduate. AASPA identifies the critical knowledge and skill levels a teacher will need to be successful today and in the future. Look for a teacher education program that promises to provide them.
In addition to knowing the subjects you teach and how those subjects are related to other subjects, you should know how to:
- teach your subjects to students
- assess student progress on a regular basis
- plan lessons in a logical sequence
- reflect on your own teaching and devise ongoing improvement
- collaborate with educators to create a complete educational environment
- use technology, at least at an intermediate level
- appreciate various cultures and establish rapport with a diverse population
- get information and educate students to seek and evaluate information
Besides the knowledge that teachers are required to have, they also should be able to:
- recognize and respond to individual differences in students
- implement a variety of teaching methods that result in higher student achievement
- work cooperatively with parents, colleagues, and others
- display a genuine love of teaching
- implement full-inclusion techniques for special education students
- differentiate instruction for development and ability levels
- write, speak, and present information well
- help students develop critical thinking skills
- relate well to parents and community members
- apply technology
- implement conflict resolution strategies
Quality Field Education
To gain the knowledge and develop the skills you need, choose a teacher education program that is field-based. In other words, it should offer many opportunities to practice with children in actual classroom settings throughout the program—not only in your student teaching experience. The theory of teaching is important; however, the practice is crucial in preparing you to meet the challenges you will face in your future classrooms.
Getting the Most From Student Teaching
The best preparation for the classroom is experience in the classroom. Your student teaching, directed teaching, or field experience is the crucial component before taking over your own classroom. Teacher training is an ongoing process, and experienced teachers will tell you they continue to learn new methods and technology (especially technology) every year. But you must begin somewhere, and that first experience—student teaching—is vitally important.
To have a successful student teaching experience, you should keep several points in mind:
- Establish a good rapport with all those around you, including your cooperating teacher, other teachers, your students, the principal, and support staff.
- Do not be afraid to ask for help.
- Take criticism as it is given—constructively.
- Be prompt, conscientious, and tactful.
- Be willing to do more than is asked of you.
- Accept that you cannot totally be your own person or do your own thing.
- Remember, it is not your classroom. The professional and legal obligation for what happens still rests with the cooperating teacher.
- Make a concerted effort to learn to plan, organize, and manage.
- Do not be afraid to use some of the materials and activities of your cooperating teacher, but develop and use some of your own, too.
- Although it may sometimes feel as if your primary objective is to "just survive," remember that student teaching is designed to allow you to grow and develop as a teacher.
- Do not be consumed by the deadlines, pressures, and rigors of student teaching—try to find ways to get away from it (both literally and figuratively). You will need to start fresh and renewed every day and every week.
Meeting State Certification Requirements
In most cases, you are not automatically certified as a teacher upon graduation from an accredited teacher education program. You must file an application for a license (certification) with the state department of education in the state where you will be working and meet all of their requirements. Every state requires a bachelor's degree, but requirements that vary include the kinds of courses taken and the exams that are required. The course of study in most teacher education programs matches the exact requirements for teacher certification in that state. However, if you plan to teach in another state, you may have to add a course or specialized requirement to your studies. It is worthwhile to choose a teacher education program in the state where you ultimately want to teach—or at least to know the certification requirements for that state when you start school—so you can fulfill them as you study.
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