New standards require new ways to train teachers

Teachers aren’t prepared to teach the new Common Core Standards, writes Stephanie Hirsch of Leaning Forward in Ed Week.

Because the common core focuses on the application of knowledge in authentic situations, teachers will need to employ instructional strategies that integrate critical and creative thinking, collaboration, problem-solving, research and inquiry, and presentation and demonstration skills. They will need subject-area expertise well beyond basic content knowledge and pedagogy to create dynamic, engaging, high-level learning experiences for students. They will need greater data literacy as we shift from current accountability systems to more granular ways of assessing student learning. And, their leaders will need to champion professional learning in their buildings and back the teachers who coach and support each other.

The traditional “spray and pray” method of professional development doesn’t work, Hirsch writes. What would?

Why not let teachers teach teachers?, asks Nancy Flanagan of Teacher in a Strange Land. “Professional Development assumes that someone knows better than a teacher” what teachers need to know.

. . .  teachers aren’t considered true professionals–and policy is leading us further away from a professional work model. We’re still talking about “training” teachers, rather than drawing on their wisdom.

Finally–probably the most significant reason–professional development is an education market. What would happen if teacher development happened internally, entirely site-based and tailored to particular schools and populations? It would require demonstrated, deep teacher expertise in instruction and curricular issues. Which could shift the balance of power. And it would cost very little.

The GE Foundation is giving $18 million to Student Achievement Partners, a nonprofit which is working with teachers to develop an online library of resources for teaching the new standards at achievethecore.org.

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