The United States has a fractured teacher preparation system and, as a result, many teachers arrive in the classroom with limited coursework, little real-world experience, and no practice in front of a full class.
As the movement towards advancing quality teacher preparation begins to pick up steam, it is more important than ever that teacher voices are brought to the forefront of our public discourse. Personal stories from teachers surface the challenges and trade-offs between different kinds of teacher preparation programs and help make the case for change so educators are empowered to meet the demands of 21st-century classrooms.
To address this challenge, Prepared To Teach, a Bank Street initiative dedicated to finding ways to support and sustain high-quality teacher preparation, launched the “Practice Makes Preparation: Teacher Stories” project.
The campaign, which launched in September, showcases multimedia interviews with teachers who have graduated from traditional, alternative, and residency programs. The perspectives shared are rich and diverse, offering a closer look at their motivations for becoming teachers, the choices and challenges of their preparation pathways, and their experiences during clinical practice and as teachers of record.
Katherine Baldwin, Project Director at the Bank Street Education Center, participated in the campaign’s launch by sharing her own teacher preparation story. In her interview, she recalls the strengths and challenges of her own five-week preparation program and reflects on the need for aspiring teachers to have meaningful learning opportunities to explore developmental and pedagogical content before entering the classroom as a teacher of record.
“Teachers spend a lot of time and money on their teacher preparation programs, and even when they are done there is still so much left to learn. I wanted to participate in this campaign because, in my own experience, I knew I needed practical support after completing my short preparation program, especially in terms of the skills and knowledge needed to be a strong reading and mathematics teacher in the early grades,” said Baldwin. “I believe that if we truly want to provide all children with high-quality, confident teachers, we need to make sure aspiring teachers are getting the right type of support during preparation.”
“Since the launch of the campaign, dozens more educators have reached out to tell us about their experiences with teacher preparation. We’ve had overwhelmingly positive feedback from teachers and others, including researchers, advocacy organizations, universities, and schools about the importance of continuing to share these teacher stories,” said Gretchen Mills, Manager of Communications and Engagement, Prepared To Teach.
Click here to learn more about the campaign, explore teacher stories, or share your own teacher preparation experience.