Professional Development Letter to the Editor

Why Not Have Future Teachers Gain Experience Before College?

December 09, 2014 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

The drumbeat of teacher bashing from the political right and in the press, within and outside the educational establishment, has produced a market correction in the supply of teachers.

We’ve known the trend for at least a decade: The downturn in the number of new teachers is outpacing the downturn in K-12 enrollments.

This dual downward trend gives us time to change the future-teacher paradigm. But “quickie,” easy-to-get certification is not the answer. It takes one to three years for a new teacher to establish a reliable, effective classroom practice. Only a low percentage of “instant certification” teachers last that long.

We must dig deeper and start teacher development while future teachers are students in K-12 schools. No other complex field, including athletics and the arts, allows people into college majors without a critical review of their prior experience in the field and verified success in dealing with its basics.

Why not expect teaching experience prior to college? Why not require teacher wannabes to produce a teaching portfolio that includes letters of support from professional educators who have observed their work, tested their commitment, and mentored their growth? And why not a teaching audition?

The Hoenny Center for Research and Development in Teaching, which I lead, estimates that, in spite of the Future Educators Association and a few state and big-city bright spots, only about 14 percent of America’s high schools have any type of future-teacher option for their students.

We can and must do better. Programs like Los Angeles’ teaching academies, Missouri’s A+ Tutoring program, and the Hoenny Center’s YouthTeachUSA provide lengthy supervised engagement with actual teaching, where kids can feel the rewards of teaching others. That’s where we’ll get more dedicated, effective, savvy American teachers of the future. We need to start now.

J. Terry Gates

President and Chief Executive Officer

Hoenny Center for Research and Development in Teaching

St. Louis, Mo.

A version of this article appeared in the December 10, 2014 edition of Education Week as Why Not Have Future Teachers Gain Experience Before College?


Student Well-Being K-12 Essentials Forum Boosting Student and Staff Mental Health: What Schools Can Do
Join this free virtual event based on recent reporting on student and staff mental health challenges and how schools have responded.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Curriculum Webinar
Practical Methods for Integrating Computer Science into Core Curriculum
Dive into insights on integrating computer science into core curricula with expert tips and practical strategies to empower students at every grade level.
Content provided by Learning.com

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Professional Development Opinion I Tried AI as a Virtual Coaching Assistant. Here's What Happened
Is using an artificial intelligence note-taking tool appropriate during leadership- coaching sessions? Here's what AI had to say.
4 min read
Screen Shot 2023 11 10 at 6.46.14 AM
Professional Development Spotlight Spotlight on Instructional Coaching for Personalized PD
This Spotlight will help you investigate strategies for effective teacher PD, evaluate examples of personalized coaching programs, and more.
Professional Development Opinion What Is the Role of Instructional Coaches?
Here’s why structured conversations are the backbone of effective instructional coaching, says Jim Knight.
6 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Professional Development Opinion What Do Educators Want From Professional Development?
Traditional PD often overlooks the authenticity and relevancy that teachers need for ongoing professional growth.
7 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."