In Sunday’s #oklaed chat, Dr. James asked us all how we would advance public education in Oklahoma if we were King/Queen for a day. This turned into a challenge issued to #oklaed bloggers by Dr. Cobb of OK Education Truths. I certainly wouldn’t consider myself an “#oklaed blogger” at this point, but since I’m new to this, I’ll take all the ideas for posts I can get. So here goes.
- Money. I know everybody’s saying it, but it certainly seems to be at the root of a lot our problems. I’ll open up the royal treasure room (which I imagine being a giant room full of gold that I can dive into like Uncle Scrooge in Ducktales) and spend away, folks. Money for teachers. Money for kids. Money for all those unfunded mandates. Money for technology. Money for social services for our students. Money for facilities. Money for teacher training, and continuous learning. Money for NBC. I’d ask all the people who know more than I do about these matters (so all the people, basically) how much it would cost to fix these things. Then I’d double it.
- I’d like to work with higher education to prepare teachers for the classroom, and provide the help they need in their first years. Tomorrow’s great teachers are leaving the profession before they even get started. It’s a tough time to be a teacher, and I hear a lot of new teachers expressing frustrations that can only be helped by experience and mentoring. I wish we could better prepare them for what the job actually IS, and not what we want it to be in an ideal world. Some very talented people are giving up before they discover their full potential.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying our universities aren’t working hard to prepare our young people for the classroom. I had excellent professors in relatively small university classes; some professors taught several courses in succession and I definitely benefited from the continuity in leadership. Still…my student teaching was only twelve weeks long, and (because my certification is PK-12) split between secondary and elementary. I had only six weeks at each site. My elementary classes were on a three-day Art/PE/Music rotation. That means I saw all of my students only six times—only six class periods to learn over 350 kids’ names. And when it was all over, I was handed a diploma (once I remembered to clep college algebra…whoops) and a teaching certificate. And then…SOMEBODY ACTUALLY GAVE ME A JOB!
The education field should not be a place where we just parachute drop a bunch of fresh graduates (or alternative or emergency certifications) into the classroom and say, “Good luck!” The mentoring needs to continue into those first few challenging years when we’re losing so many promising teachers because we threw them into the deep end without floaties. Since I’m Queen, I’ll open up my treasure room and pay for districts to have a position for somebody to coordinate PD, mentoring, and the general championing of first, second, and third year teachers. (Does such a position exist somewhere? If it does, how do I get it? As Tina Fey would say, “I want to go to there”) The point is…we need to invest in the teachers who will take our place eventually.
There you have it, in less than 600 words. AND…I resisted the urge to make the entire a post a bunch of references to Queen songs. You’re welcome.