Too often, communities are left out of the equation in preparing future teachers.
“We’ve generally done a poor job accessing the knowledge and the assets that exist in our schools and communities,” said Ken Zeichner, Boeing professor of teacher education at the University of Washington College of Education. “There’s this idea that we’re coming in to help save schools and students.”
That’s a view that Zeichner wants to change.
During the American Educational Research Association’s 2016 annual meeting, Zeichner presented his vision for the future of teacher education, a future he calls “Teacher Prep 3.0.”
“Teacher Prep 1.0” refers to traditional, university-based teacher preparation programs, while “Teacher Prep 2.0” refers to alternative preparation programs that have been launched in recent years in response to critiques of traditional teacher preparation.
Zeichner noted that while there are many good “Teacher Prep 1.0” programs with strong clinical experiences and K-12 partnerships, the quality of these preparation programs can vary widely. Meanwhile, “Teacher Prep 2.0” programs view teachers as technicians and largely judge the success of teacher candidates on test scores.
In both cases, there’s often a teacher-centric view that fails to take into account what families and communities want for the education of their young people.
“Communities are already engaged in making the place where they live better, they don’t need someone to come in and save them,” Zeichner said.
Zeichner said that in advocating for “Teacher Prep 3.0,” he hopes to change the tone of current debates around teacher preparation.
“I feel very strongly that the polarized debates about teacher quality and preparation between the 1.0 and 2.0 camps are ignoring fundamental aspects of the community contributions that are crucial to improving education,” Zeichner said.
In “Teacher Prep 3.0,” Zeichner said schools, communities and teacher preparation programs will come together to talk about what teacher education should be and community members will be viewed as experts who are critical to mentoring teacher candidates about their communities and values.
“Teachers cannot educate students well unless they understand them and their lives,” Zeichner said. “What 3.0 programs aim for are teachers who see their students as members of families and communities. Who see themselves as working for and with a community, rather than preparing a few students to get to the point where they can escape a community. Whose work in the classroom is connected to the larger context and community in which they live.”
Ken Zeichner, Boeing Professor of Teacher Education
Dustin Wunderlich, Director for Marketing and Communications