- Show pre-service teachers the benefits of professional networking. Most schools have some sort of mentoring system for new teachers. It's fantastic to have someone to go for when you need support and answers to questions that arise. Unless you have a lousy mentor. Wouldn't it be better to give our new teachers a network of thousands of educators who are happy to share, encourage, support, and collaborate? How to build and collaborate within a Professional Learning Network (PLN) should be explicitly taught and modeled early on and encouraged throughout the teacher training process so that its utilization is second nature when new teachers are hired.
- Elementary education majors need more training in the understanding of math. We do a great job of teaching kids ways to "do" math in elementary school, but we don't always do a great job of teaching kids to understand math. Unfortunately, a lot of elementary teachers aren't comfortable with math. It's not uncommon to hear the words "I could never pass the 5th (or 8th) grade math test" uttered in an elementary faculty room. There is something very wrong with that. Nobody would approve of a teacher who couldn't read on a 5th grade level teaching reading to our young students. Conceptual understanding of math can't be taught at the elementary level unless teachers have a conceptual understanding of math.
- Technology needs modeled and used within the learning process. If we expect new teachers to teach 21st century skills using 21st century tools we need to create learning environments within their pre-service programs that allow them to experience what learning this way looks and feels like. Nobody learns how to teach from a textbook. Replace them with Livebinders, wikis, and other collaborative on-line tools. College classes should have backchannel discussions going on, which are saved for later reference. Students from different areas of the country (and world) should be collaborating on projects using technology. If our pre-service programs were technology rich and brought into the 21st century it would be much easier for our new teachers to build learning environments that promote 21st century skills.
- Students should learn how to collect and use the data that matters to improve student learning. This doesn't mean standardized testing data. Standardized test scores come to us months after students take the tests and give little insight as to how to individualize instruction. We need to train our new teachers in formative assessment techniques. They need to know how to diagnose student learning within lessons and then use that data to guide their teaching. Continually using formative assessment to identify what students have mastered a concept and using that information to find ways to help those who haven't has been proven to be one of the most effective ways to promote student achievement. Teachers need to have this ability when they enter a classroom.
- Replace student teaching with a medical style paid multi-year internship. The current student teaching model allows for two 6 week placements and less than much less than 10 weeks of actual teaching. It is impossible to learn enough in that time to be prepared for a profession. New teachers should spend a minimum of two years practicing and learning to teach under the supervision of a master teacher. They should get constant feedback and support. These years of learning would benefit our new teachers as well as our students.