What's Missing From Teacher-Prep Programs?
Everyone was clapping and agreeing when I talked about teaching our children to be empathetic but it was very quiet in that lecture hall during a part of my speech where I should've gotten a rousing AMEN. I got hit with a confirming silence that let me know I was striking nerves. But when I prepared my speech, I knew exactly who my audience was and I promised myself that I wouldn't hold back, the Department didn't bring me there to be bashful. I urged the attendees - future educators, novice teachers, and leaders of various teacher-prep organizations and academic institutions, to create protocols in which students are able to give pre-service/student-teachers constructive feedback before they enter the field as full-time teachers. Urban classrooms are being led by too many people who do not understand how to teach urban youth. And it's only widening the achievement gap. You can be as book smart as you want to be, but if you don't know how to reach your students, none of those degrees and certifications will matter. You can't teach them if you can't reach them.
Before completing the practicum process, we have to let the kids play a role in the evaluation process. Prompt them to use an on-going evaluation form that will allow pre-service/student teachers to be cognizant of what they need to work on. Then, as experienced educators, we can suggest appropriate strategies that may be implemented into their practice, based off the students' indicated areas of growth. We all know, kids will always tell you the truth about yourself. If they love you, they're going to tell you. On the contrary, if they don't have respect for you, they're going to tell you that too! If you're too soft, they are going to tell you. If you seem like you don't know what you're doing, they are going to tell you.
Don't be afraid of the truth, let it make you, not break you! We put so much weight on the evaluations of administrators and hardly ever take the time to ask the kids: What can I do to better serve you?