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The Case for Comprehensive Teacher Training




It's undeniable that as we get closer to the end of the school year, both teachers and students can start to feel the strain of burnout. However, our aim should always be for school to be a place of joy, not dread. There needs to be joy, positivity, and engagement if we want to see students truly thrive and be prepared for their futures - whether they plan to attend college, join the military, or go into the workforce. Sadly, this isn't the reality in many (most) schools today.


One - just one - of the critical issues we face is that teachers, particularly those without an educational background, often need more preparation to excel in the classroom. Even those with educational backgrounds may require further training to navigate the unique culture of their particular school effectively and be able to cater to the needs of diverse learners.


Currently, our new teachers receive a brief training period before the school year begins, and then they are paired with a mentor throughout their initial years. While this support is valuable, it's clear that more comprehensive training is needed to equip teachers with the skills necessary for success. Many teachers, particularly those who join later in the year, may miss out on critical training altogether.  


As someone who began their teaching journey with very minimal formal education in the field, I know firsthand the challenges that come with inadequate preparation. My early years in the classroom were definitely not great. I struggled with behavior management and personal hardships outside of school (plenty of exciting stories I can share). Despite wanting badly to be and do better, I found myself overwhelmed and, at times, just ready to give up.


However, those difficult years [also known as the worst period in my life] taught me invaluable lessons. Through a combination of observing seasoned educators, self-directed learning, and seeking support, I gradually honed my craft. With better leadership and guidance, I eventually gained confidence, found my stride, and excelled in the classroom. Today, I am proud to say that my evaluations are consistently positive, and I have had the privilege of mentoring other educators on their own journeys.


Unfortunately, the challenges we face in our schools today are complex and multifaceted. Blame is often assigned to various stakeholders—parents, teachers, administrators, and even superintendents. And ultimately, every one of those people is to blame and should be held accountable. Starting at the top with the superintendent. Next, with school principals, then mentors/instructional coaches, then teachers. And what about if parents are not succeeding in their portion of preparing their kids at home? Training and preparation for all stakeholders within the school system should be adequate enough to combat any existing issues or barriers that exist. Also, rather than assigning blame, we must acknowledge that systemic issues require systemic solutions - which leads to another topic for another day.


That's why [one of the things] I advocate for is comprehensive professional development initiatives across our school district. Every stakeholder, from teachers to administrators, should have access to ongoing training tailored to their needs. Moreover, we must strengthen partnerships with the community and local businesses to facilitate horizontal learning experiences for our educators and students.


Additionally, we must enhance support systems for parents and families, recognizing their crucial role in a child's education. By fostering a collaborative environment where all stakeholders are empowered and equipped, we can create schools where both teachers and students thrive.


In closing, let's shift our focus from assigning blame to taking action. Together, we can cultivate a culture of continuous improvement in our schools, ensuring that every student receives the education they deserve.


So, what can you do that will contribute to a better education for our students in the public school system?


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