School-based teacher training – yes?
As the debate about the White Paper moves into the frenetic stage, I was pondering about the training teachers in school bit. Now, this post is not about the rights and wrongs of such a policy. That is for the many other commentators out there. No, I wanted to think about what the implications may be. What training would be better delivered in school. After all, apprenticeships have been with us for a long time and often highly regarded. I’ve thought about some of the things that teachers need to know and where they may be best to learn them. The lists are not exhaustive by any means but may direct your thinking.
In-school Learning (in no particular order)
- Behaviour management – can only be practiced and therefore developed with a group to manage. The theory of possible strategies is useful but I suspect many able practitioners will swear by ‘I developed that approach myself’
- Parents – a breed apart in many schools and they have to be seen and interacted with to be believed! Seriously, building a relationship0 with parents can be a very scary thing and can only be done within a school environment.
- Special Educational Needs – again the theory is useful but it is only by working with a wide range of abilities and needs that a teacher will learn how to organize and differentiate the children’s learning
- Teaching styles – I am sure that those teachers who have been in the profession for two years or more would see a change in their teaching style for those first tentative lessons. You don’t know what you style is going to be until you are faced with a group of youngsters who are dependent on you, not only for their learning but their whole educational experience.
- Curriculum management – by that I mean coping with the various groups of ability (not necessarily SEN). Grouping children correctly for that lesson is often key to its success. It is not always top, middle and bottom!
- Educational Psychology – knowing about the stages of development both physically and emotionally is a good grounding for understanding the children in your class
- Learning Styles – key to making the best use of each child’s potential and understanding that one size does not fit all.
- Legal and administrative procedures – these are the contracts, Health and Safety, risk assessment type things that new teachers need to have some understanding of.
Problems with school-based learning
- TIME – I have put this in capitals because for me this will be one of the major draw-backs to increased training in school. Students and their mentors will need time to discuss, plan, prepare and importantly review and reflect what is happening. This within an already jam-packed timetable will be difficult and will be closely linked to…
- Money – to release staff to support students will need additional funds.
- Pressure on schools – having students in school at the moment is not always an answer to staff shortages; it is not always an extra pair of hands. If students are going to come straight to school , they are not going to be able to make any sort of a contribution for a while which will put additional pressure on all staff throughout the school.
- Attitude of school – this is not a criticism as I have been in this position myself but sometimes school forget that NQTs are not fully fledged teachers who have been there, seen it, done and have the T-shirt. We don’t do it intentionally but we just forget. If the new approach brings in student who have even less knowledge this will cause quite a few problems.
So… there are few thoughts about the possible changes to teacher training. Does the present system provide NQTs with enough understanding to do a good job? Do NQTs fall into the trap that school may unwittingly set of thinking they know everything? Would more school based training help schools to become learning places for the grown-ups as well as the children? Leave me a comment with your thoughts