Teacher Education, Teacher Practice

August 8, 2009 at 12:32 pm 2 comments

After a year of being in the trenches, and after a lot of reading the blogs and books of other teachers, I’ve got a question.

How often do good teachers go against what they’ve been taught in their college teacher education classes?

Mr. Bees is a constitutional law nut, and he’s tried to teach me the difference between “conservative/liberal” in political terms versus “conservative/liberal” in constitutional/Supreme Court terms. I’m going to attempt to use the latter definitions of the words to refer to teacher-ed classes.

It seems to me that my graduate coursework in teacher education was very liberal, very progressive. We’re taught to be very student-centered, to avoid tests (especially multiple-choice tests), to focus on multiple intelligences, to arrange desks in staggered horseshoes and never in straight rows. We’re taught simultaneously to join our teacher union – for CYA purposes – and that unions are undesirable as one of the primary reasons that teachers lack professional respect. We’re taught that reading a book to your class is equivalent to having them read it themselves, that students should have as many opportunities as they wish to redo assignments or tests, and – especially – that teachers who differ from this methodology are not good teachers.

“Taught” is, at times, too mild a word – in retrospect, I recognize that we were often being indoctrinated.

I bought into it whole-heartedly. It’s appealing stuff, and the passionate rhetoric wrought up in the buzzwords sounds as good to administrators as it does to the young, idealistic teacher.

Now, however, I begin to wonder…

Have I contracted the dreaded “teacher digging in heels to remain in the good ole ways” disease? Or is additional experience and perspective showing me that conservative educational methodology isn’t necessarily bad?

What really works? What’s really the best? Is it really as loosey-goosey as “different things work for different teachers”?

I don’t have any deep thoughts or profound conclusions. Just hoping to start a conversation. Let me know what you think.



Golden Tickets: A Recipe for an Awards/Management System Two Online Games for Word Power

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. stixen  |  August 8, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    Dunno about your neck of the woods, but here in Los Angeles, it’s ALL about getting the students to pass their “graduation” tests (the ones they have to pass or…I presume go remedial education until they do). If that means focusing on nothing BUT the test, then so be it.

    Which unfortunately means that the only students to experience learning the way you were taught to offer it? Honors and A/P classes. I remember thinking that my Honors/A/P english classes were FAR easier than what my “normal” classmates were experiencing – until I got to college and discovered that those classes had far better prepared me to BE in college.

    Which doesn’t really answer your question, I’m afraid – but I’m not a teacher 😉 I will say that my very favorite teachers are the ones that found a way between – both teaching what they *had* to teach, and teaching *how* they wanted to.

  • 2. Julie  |  August 10, 2009 at 9:30 am

    i think i had a similar experience in grad school, and quickly realized that none of it was based in reality, or at least not the urban reality that i was working in. just as one example, small-group differentiated instruction sounds really wonderful, but i have yet to see it actually implemented anywhere in a real-life classroom.

    i think it’s definitely a bit of indoctrination and i think it’s a good thing if you can realize that it’s not gospel and that it’s okay for you (or any teacher) to think outside that box.

    [by the way, I linked to a couple of your previous posts. and i spent like an hour playing that bubble word game! keep up the good work. :)]


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The Bee’s Knees

This is the teaching journal of a student first-year second-year THIRD-YEAR (!!!) English teacher. I am writing this blog as a reflection for myself, a way to keep friends and family updated, and a sharing-ground between other educators online. I love comments!

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