Learning, Innovation & Tech

Bombs & Breakthroughs

What If We Trained Teachers Like We Trained Doctors?

CJW, April 29, 2010 12:05 PM


Okay, NPR wasn't thinking of the ABC show "Scrubs" (above photo), but you get the picture . . .

This in from NPR, with 6 minute podcast below, " Programs Train Teachers Using Medical School Model."   Highlights:

"What if we prepared teachers the same way we prepare doctors? . . "
"Tom Payzant had been Boston Public Schools superintendent when he founded the Boston Teacher Residency program. Payzant, who now teaches at Harvard University, says the city desperately needed to attract more talented teachers, especially for hard-to-fill positions like math, science and special education. But it wasn't just about the numbers, Payzant says. It was about the quality of teachers coming out of colleges of education.

Most teacher training institutions focus more on content and less on practice and how people teach," Payzant says.

So, he wondered, why can't schools be more like teaching hospitals with seasoned teachers, just like seasoned doctors, responsible for the induction and training of the next generation of teachers? . . ."

And "A Teaching Moment":

". . . At Fenway High, Watson was first paired with faculty member Juliana Thompson, a microbiologist by training and an accomplished teacher with a reputation for being tough, fair and blunt.

"You can just kind of tell when someone is cut out for teaching or not," Thompson says. And Watson, she says, was cut out for teaching -- which is not to say that Thompson was immediately impressed. Watson's first day teaching solo was a disaster.

Watson recalls that everything appeared to be going just fine. The kids were behaving. She was talking about isotopes and trying to explain the difference between atomic mass and atomic weight. Then, suddenly, Watson says, she realizes "nobody knows what I'm saying." But she says she kept talking. "And I confused people more and more until I realized an hour and 15 minutes had gone by and they're all sitting there like 'What?'"
Thompson, her mentor, just watched.

"I did not step in because that's just a classic teaching moment. Teaching is not just about preparation, it's about thinking on your feet," Thompson says. "You suddenly realize that's not going to work and in a matter of seconds everything you had planned for the past week has to be changed and that's very hard to do." . . . . ."


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