Supplementary Reading #1 : LUSENET : M.Ed./International Falls : One Thread

Supplementary Reading #1

-- Anonymous, November 29, 1998


 Quality Teaching: The Critical Key to Learning by Linda Darling-Hammond, Principal, September 1998, Vol. 77, #1, pp. 5-11.

As educators, entering the next century, we are faced with many challenges and decisions which involve improving the quality learning of our students. Students, of all backgrounds, are expecting schools to prepare them for an ever-changing world in a higher level, more sophisticated, way. Schools are now being asked to examine how students developmentally learn, understand, interact, and perform. Principals and faculties must upgrade and redesign many, and sometimes all, aspects of their school to keep up with changing policies and modern technology. Schools are now being planned on foundations which are based on more proficient teaching and on building more productive and meaningful relationships.

According to a recent report by the National Commission on Teaching and Americas Future, every child is entitled to a compassionate, reliable, and experienced teacher. Teachers and administrators are entitled to high-quality professional preparations. The commission found that the experience and qualifications in teachers are very significant in determining student progress and this accounts for the varied achievement levels in students. Also, discovered was students seem to learn more in smaller classes and when teachers stay with students for longer blocks of time and years.

The commission identified five areas of concern: 1. Improving professional standards for teachers helps ensure they are equipped with the required wisdom and abilities they will need. 2. Redesigning a teachers educational and professional development. This would include extending formal education to five years instead of four. The fifth year would consist of a year long internship which would be followed by a formal placement program consisting of mentoring, peer reviews, intervention programs if needed, and continuing professional learning opportunities. 3.Assertive teacher recruiting programs that will guarantee all classrooms are filled with qualified teachers. This could be done through scholarships and free loans. 4. Rewards for knowledge and ability which can be done through compensation plans and new job descriptions which will allow teachers to share more without leaving their classrooms. 5. Schools redesigned so the same teacher and students can work together for a longer time period, and more time for teacher collaboration and planning.

All teachers in our school, young and old, are encouraged to attend as many workshops and inservices that we can fit into our schedules. There is a need for teachers to keep up on new strategies and techniques which are imperative to preparing our students to go out into the fast-paced world as it is today. I feel our schools are trying to do their best to equip teachers with the necessary encouragement and incentives to ensure in-depth quality teaching, but due to limited funds this is sometimes not possible. Some of the ways in which schools in the Falls are trying to keep up with other schools are through acquiring new technology and new programs such as the multi-age classrooms, the responsive classroom approach, mentoring programs, the new graduation standards which we are slowly becoming acquainted with, and also, our UMD Masters program. This program is providing many of us ways to discover, explore, and possibly implement new material we have been introduced to.

We need to realize that children today are growing up in a much different world than we did and the same rules we had sometimes dont apply anymore. Now there is a need for more knowledge, more technology training, and there is more competition to contend with. Only when all the components within a school work together can we expect any real progress to be made. This includes teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals, parents, and students. There is no one perfect approach than will ensure the quality we need today so all the programs and approaches used must be individualized for each school because some, obviously, will work better than others. Todays students are tomorrows teachers so supporting our teachers and schools can and will make a difference.

-- Anonymous, November 29, 1998

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