Today, we’re joined again by Monte Syrie. Monte joined us previously to talk about teacher/student relationships, and he’s back to discuss teacher training. Monte operates a daily educational blog at letschangeeducation.com, serves as an adjunct professor of education at Eastern Washington University, and is a high school English teacher and department chair at Cheney High School in Cheney, Washington.
In our discussion, we focus on what qualities to look for in a teacher, how a teacher program can be designed, and what our goals are for the future. In talking about training, this quote seemed so relevant from John Dewey's The Relation of Theory to Practice in Education:
"The teacher who leaves the professional school with power in managing a class of children may appear to superior advantage the first day, the first week, the first month, or even the first year, as compared with some other teacher who has a much more vital command of the psychology, logic and ethics of development. But later ‘progress’ may with such consist only in perfecting and refining skill already possessed. Such persons seem to know how to teach, but they are not students of teaching. Even though they go on studying books of pedagogy, reading teachers’ journals, attending teachers’ institutes, etc., yet the root of the matter is not in them, unless they continue to be students of subject-matter, and students of mind-activity. Unless a teacher is such a student, he may continue to improve in the mechanics of school management, but he cannot grow as a teacher, an inspirer and director of soul-life."
So often our teachers are trained to see lesson plans, classroom management, and grading as the heart of education and relationships, passion, and interests as nice, but asides. Instead, why not flip that model? Why can actual protocol be "good things to do" but relationships and engaging lifelong learners be the focal point? Surely there are many issues to address, but we need to start somewhere.