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Teacher Preparation: A Never-Ending Quandary

teacherby Johnny W. Lott, Editor
for the Editorial Panel
October 2000 

Everyone—from parents, to teachers, to students—is concerned about the quality of classroom teacher preparation. The demands of today's classrooms make evaluating teacher-preparation programs necessary. Demand for new teachers forces many teachers who did not participate in the traditional teacher-preparation process to enter classrooms with little formal training for the job.

Classroom teachers have definite views on the training that they had as undergraduates. The "Teacher Responses" note that content is a big concern, but readers voice many other concerns. Andrews notes that changes are needed in the attitudes of professors who teach undergraduate courses. Kennedy says that teachers need only content knowledge and desire.

Is there any general agreement or a common denominator that can really direct future changes in preparation? Content knowledge is a concern from the mathematical community addressed by Tucker's essay, with that concern echoed by Kessel and Ma, by Langfield, and in a different way, by Cain. Kamii has concerns about cognition, young children's ways of learning, and teachers' abilities to do research in the area. Resek and Franklin are concerned about how older students learn and how prospective teachers' classes are taught.

dialogues House suggests that prospective teachers need a connected set of experiences that parallel the gifts given in The Wizard of Oz. Yet another concern is the influence of diversity, which cuts across all levels, as noted by Chappell and Najee-ullah. Although they exhibit some commonality, the concerns reflect views as varied as the perspectives of the people sharing them. All the discussions indicate that concerns about teacher preparation are clearly widespread, and the need for continuous change is apparent. An underlying tone is that like most people new to their jobs, freshman teachers need as much content knowledge as they can get, but that alone is not enough.

What was your background before you began teaching? How well prepared were you? As you consider this issue of Dialogues, take the opportunity to respond to the different essays on the questionnaire on this Web site. We want to hear from you.


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