Today marks the close of a weeklong field trip for 80 British teachers who were chosen to participate in the British Council’s Teachers International Professional Development (TIPD) program.
Since its inception in 2000, the government-funded U.K. program has been sending up to 15 groups of educators per year to study alternative-teaching methods in U.S. schools. This year, groups went to districts in Los Angeles, Houston, and Raleigh-Durham, N.C., among other places, to meet with state and district-level officials, observe classrooms, team-teach lessons, and trade ideas with their host teachers. They focused their professional development on such themes as addressing boys’ underachievement and collaborating with outside agencies to improve student well-being.
And while the program is not reciprocal, this recent report on teacher-training reveals that U.S. educators could benefit from seeing how things are done in England as well. As Stephen mentions in his article, “Teachers’ lesson planning in the United States . . . averages between three and five hours a week and is typically scheduled independently. . . But in most European and Asian countries, teachers spend 15 to 20 hours a week on those activities and generally performed them in collaboration with their peers.” Is this focus on collaboration the reason the British government funds such trips in the first place?
Perhaps administrators from the U.S., rather than teachers, would get the most out of school visits abroad, seeing as how they are in charge of scheduling and teacher training. Any chance there’s some money in the stimulus earmarked for travel?
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.