Fully Prepared Teachers with the Support They Need to Do Their Jobs Well
At school, nothing matters more to student learning than a child’s teacher. Teachers deserve our respect and the support they need to do their jobs well, including programs that effectively prepare them for the classroom; a fair compensation and benefits package; high-quality instructional materials aligned to state standards with related professional learning; and opportunities to grow as professionals, serve as leaders, and advance in their careers.
Yet America’s approach to preparing and supporting teachers—as professionals, not merely technicians—is often antiquated and inadequate. We must elevate the teaching profession and implement innovative, effective strategies to improve teacher training and development.
As one example, the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE), under the leadership of Chiefs for Change board member and former State Superintendent John White, established programs to give aspiring teachers a full year of practice under an expert mentor and competency-based program design. LDOE steadily expanded the initiative during White’s tenure, offering yearlong residencies to teacher candidates throughout the state, building a cadre of trained teacher mentors, and promoting effective collaboration among school systems and preparation providers. In 2017, the state codified the model into regulation, requiring all aspiring teachers in all universities to experience a full-year residency under a state-certified mentor.
Some of us have established teacher leadership networks that give outstanding teachers opportunities to mentor those who are new to the field. These networks perform other functions as well, from strengthening professional learning, to creating resources that make it easier to find and adopt excellent materials, to helping shape education policy at both the state and local levels.