Here is your three part challenge should you choose to accept it: 1.) Demonstrate your proficiency as a teacher measured in part by MSP/HSPE scores, 2.) Mentor a student teacher so they may start their career at a point of proficiency, 3.) Remember those tests? MSP and HSPE? Make sure your students pass them.
In light of a new position I recently started and conversations about whose class to place my own child in next year, I have been ruminating about the three way raw deal this “mission impossible” presents. How should we shepherd new entrants into the profession given the current climate of high stakes testing and teacher evaluation tied to said tests? No matter how knowledgeable of content and pedagogy, no matter how energetic and committed, a student teacher by definition presents inconsistency in instruction. In spite of the fact we have all been there, in spite of the fact no one can step into teaching with any hope of success without at least minimal “in front of the class” experience, how many of us are going to continue to be willing to take on student teachers? Especially in the spring, when our names, our evaluations, our jobs are tied to a test someone else is preparing our students for? And what about those fresh faces who bring talent, energy, and optimism? How are they to get the experience they need to become successful teachers? Then there are the students. Kids need consistency and firm boundaries on multiple levels to feel secure enough to take the intellectual risks required for growth. The first grade classroom I am considering for my son will transition between the master teacher (fabulous known commodity) and at least two student teachers (who will likely be great). Dynamic? Yes. Consistent? In fits and starts. Is that set up really in students’ best interests?
So a policy challenge for any takers out there: 1.) Create a highly selective teacher preparation program, 2.) Require student teaching for a full school year based on a team-teaching model with the master teacher taking the class back for the six weeks prior to MSP/HSPE for the student teacher to observe, 3.) Develop an evaluation model within the new framework to take into account a student teaching situation.