Goad: Tennessee is providing clearer blueprint for teacher preparation

Goad: Tennessee is providing clearer blueprint for teacher preparation

October 16th, 2016 by Anthony Goad in Opinion Columns

Anthony Goad

Anthony Goad

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

If you go

› What: Study Hall: a Conversation on Teacher Prep and Quality, an education forum open to the public.

› Where: Chattanooga Times Free Press, 400 E. 11th St.

› When: 6-8 p.m. Tuesday. Refreshments will be served at 6 p.m. Forum begins promptly at 6:30.

› To register: Visit www.studyhallchatt.com.

We have an opportunity, a unique opportunity — in fact the opportunity — to educate the next generation of teachers to meet our students' and our community's needs. Necessity should drive us. The urgency of the situation should have us sprinting to find and prepare individuals for that most difficult task many refer to as teaching.

The quality of instruction is recognized as the biggest in-school predictor, and in fact, decider of, student success. Quality instruction has students engaged in rigorous, ambitious real-world tasks. They work collaboratively, sharing ideas readily and equitably.

Teachers are no longer the "sage on the stage;" today they provide guidance, support when necessary and constant feedback to students. Teachers no longer impart knowledge, but teach thinking skills, research analysis and adapt to the needs of their students.

I became a teacher because I believe I can have a positive effect on the lives of students. I know that with hard work and commitment, I can make a difference. That's what I love about teaching. It is never a dull moment, and there are always new problems to solve or questions to help students answer.

When students apply their thinking to solve a problem, when they make a connection to something they read in another class, or a video they saw on social media, when they review an article and say, "I think I have an idea about what could be done ," that is when I know I have been a successful teacher.

So here is our opportunity to prepare the next generation of teachers who can teach students how to be the critical thinkers our community needs.

The state Board of Education, with the support of the governor and the commissioner of education, has provided us with a clearer and more thought-out blueprint for teacher preparation than the piecemeal conglomeration that preceded it.

Tennessee decided to more clearly define what a good teacher training program looks like. And what it looks like is local college teacher prep programs working with local school districts to develop programs that can fill the district's unique teaching needs. In short, it is customized teacher training and education.

What I would like people in the community to realize is that teaching is a truly difficult and complex undertaking worthy of an in-depth discussion. But however difficult and complex, teaching can be taught. It is rarely the innate, natural practice it is often hailed to be.

What's more, it can be taught effectively. Project Inspire is our local Teacher Residency program. What makes a residency unique is the trust it puts in the clinical instructors, or mentors, who provide the classroom and the past experiences that are shared with the residents. Much as a well-trained doctor provides an intern opportunities to practice medicine, so does a clinical instructor provide teaching residents with opportunities to practice teaching.

During the intense, 16-month program, residents also complete classwork to obtain a master's degree.

In addition, Hamilton County is also partnering with UTC to improve literacy instruction. Our school district is assisting in literacy training for 25 prospective K-3 teachers that will allow those teachers to enter our classrooms with the proven tools in place and used by current educators.

Both of these programs provide the experiences needed by future educators, the experience they need before they accept full-time assignment in one of our schools. Like football, the more touches you have, the better you will get.

These innovative approaches to teacher education are part of a larger conversation about teacher preparation eddying in the currents of Chattanooga 2.0.

The Time Free Press is hosting a panel discussion on Oct. 18 called "Study Hall: A Conversation on Teacher Prep and Quality." This is the opportunity we have been waiting for. The opportunity to make sure every student in Hamilton County receives quality instruction from highly trained teachers, customized to meet our community's needs.

Anthony Goad is a science teacher at Tyner Middle Academy. He has been teaching for 12 years.

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