Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Opposite of recruiting?

Jonathan over at JD2718 is asking how we retain teachers. Although a very good question (I think he probably means how we retain good teachers) to which I would love to get an answer, I have a slightly different question: how do we prevent some people from going into the teaching profession? Some of the students I see who are studying to be teachers are mysteriously passing their courses and will get a degree, but from what I can tell though they are not ready mathematically to teach, and I am not convinced that they enjoy mathematics. I have had conversations about this and the argument I most often hear is that we need to let them pass if they are not totally bad. Because if we don't then we will have such a shortage of teachers that the people who will end up in the classroom will have even less training (read: they'll be much worse) than the ones I'm worried about. However, this problem feeds into the one Jonathan is talking about (well one version of it anyway, the one that encompasses all teachers). If people who come out of our teachers' programs are not ready to be teachers or should not be teachers at all, then they are likely to quit pretty quickly. But that is not necessarily a bad thing. Unfortunately, once again, I do not have a solution.


ms. v. said...

Well, what do we do with students in our classes who aren't getting a particular skill? Ideally, we identify the specific problems and provide them with intensive, directed help until they master the skills. That's a little trickier to do when your students are adults, but can schools provide checkpoints and enough rigorous assignments that students get caught in a net and provided with help before they graduate? We have to let go of the idea that everyone progresses at the same pace - learning to teach is a slow process of blooming - and that grad school is just a box to check off on the way to a higher salary.

As for passion... that's a harder one. I would think that programs should be screening candidates at the point of acceptance. Do they convey excitement and passion for teaching AND for their subject material? If not, why take them? Desperation for math teachers is not a good reason! For one thing, being surrounded by teachers who aren't skilled at what they do and/or don't care about the material is a quick way to turn off those who ARE.

But my suggestions are always a little pie-in-the-sky, I realize.

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