Rigorous Training for Teachers is Smart Policy

By NAACP Education Director Beth Glenn

Originally Posted on National Journal’s Education Experts Blog in response to the question ” Should teachers train the same way doctor’s do?”

Teachers should absolutely be trained with the same care and thought that goes into medical education. The evidence about the size of a teacher’s potential impact and the growing need to teach a rapidly diversifying student body to ever greater levels of complexity demand big changes in the ways we train and support teacher candidates, novices and veteran educators. Residencies are not only powerful training models because they expand upon the half-semester or semester-long supervised teaching experience most future teachers receive, but they also allow teachers, like medical residents, to specialize.

Residencies designed to build a pipeline of well prepared teachers into a district will place teacher trainees in the same type of schools where they are committed to teach after graduation. Those with an explicit focus on training teachers to work with diverse populations will build in opportunities for teacher trainees to immerse themselves in a community through volunteer opportunities. Such a system offers the opportunity to train teachers explicitly to work with high-needs populations. It also gives them a support system of university faculty and coursework tailored to help solve their day-to-day problems. That way they have somewhere to turn during the supervised residency period and later in the crucial - and stressful - first years of teaching.