Programs that train teachers need to be radically revised, according to a panel composed of some of the country's top educators, and eight states, including Maryland, have signed on to adopt the recommendations, scheduled to be released Tuesday.Teachers are poorly prepared to meet students' educational needs upon reaching the classroom. That's not necessarily a reflection on the teachers as I've known many who desperately want to help their students but are painfully aware that they weren't properly prepared to do so and are not going to get the support they need from their school district hierarchy. Were I a teacher, or a leader in a teacher's union, I'd be demanding that schools and other organizations that claim to train teachers actually teach them how to teach. The article above mentions that Teach for America, a program that recruits individuals to teach in problem schools, sends them on their way with five weeks of training. Five. Whole. Weeks. To then teach in problem schools. What could possibly go wrong?
Being the parent of children with special needs my issue is the complete lack of training for teachers in recognizing and dealing with the host of educational challenges that the learning disabled students in their classrooms face. A good deal of the grief that students face in the classroom comes from their teachers not having a clue about what challenges the students face and the teachers not knowing what they can do to help their students overcome those challenges. Ask any regular classroom teacher and the honest ones will regularly admit that this is so. Most want to help their students but they were never trained in how to do so.
My solution is simple, make that teaching degree actually mean something. Train anyone who is going to be in a classroom how to recognize students struggling with a learning disability. Train them to ask, is this kid acting up because he/she is just a bad-ass kid or because or because they're trying to compensate for some other issue? Train them in educational strategies that can help typical and learning disabled students alike thrive. Teach them what kinds of learning disabilities are out there that will turn up in their classrooms.
For the penny-pinchers among you who are ready to start howling about how much it is going to cost cash strapped governments it doesn't have to cost the government one red cent. Simply put it out there, if you want to teach in our schools you need to know how to handle students with learning disabilities in your classroom. If you want to keep teaching in our schools this is what you need to know about learning disabilities. If entities training people to be teachers want to stay in business they will need to revamp their curricula to meet these standards. Those teachers who care about their students will step up and the rest can hit the road freeing up resources to provide a better education for students.