Teacher training programs: What teachers want

A recent report, written by practicing classroom teachers, provides an overview of some of the key issues they feel need to be addressed by teacher training programs. Three critical and interrelated issues rose to the top of their informal survey of 55 educators:

  • Classroom management
  • Student assessment
  • Differentiated instruction

The authors write that “teachers are increasingly told to know exactly where each student is in regard to his or her basic skills at any given time. This requires a unique skill set which, like classroom management and diversification, has to be taught at the college, pre-service level.”

Unfortunately, student assessments skills are not typically taught in schools of education. And if you aren’t skilled at assessing student learning, it becomes extremely difficult to differentiate instruction and accommodate each student at his or her level.

The teachers recommend several important steps for schools of education to consider, including:

  • Deepening coursework in classroom management, differentiated teaching, literacy, and use of assessment
  • Creating a common teacher preparation curriculum that:
    • Provides all teachers with the core classroom skills they need
    • Has the flexibility to teach the skills required by specific student populations

We agree with these recommendations and suggest that agreeing on a common definition of the skills needed by teachers, including skill in assessing student learning gaps, is a critical first step.

The full report, release by College Board, can be found here.