Necessary Shifts: A Change in K-12 Teacher Education

In the not-so-distant past, public schools used to represent the most major building block in the education and socialization of students outside of the home. Young minds were molded by the teachers, administrators and friends they met in the confines of the school setting. Teachers had the ability to teach in much more isolated circumstances, even ten years ago, than they are able to do today.

With respect to the students of the past, modern classrooms are full of sophisticated youngsters that show up with a detailed view of the world formed from more than home life experiences. Instant access to knowledge from the age a child can press a touchscreen on a Smartphone and widespread socialization from as young as six weeks old in the form of childcare atmospheres mean that kids arrive at Kindergarten with less naivety than previous generations. Teachers are not handed a clean slate but rather one that is already cluttered with random knowledge that must be fostered or remediated.

Teacher Education Innovation

It stands to reason that if students are changing, teachers need to change too. More specifically, the education that teachers receive needs to be modified to meet the modern needs of K – 12 classrooms. There are policy and practice changes taking place all over the world – many driven by teachers – that address the cultural shifts in the classroom. Some that show a lot of promise include:

  • Subject-specific recruiting by colleges and universities. The book Teaching 2030, written by 13 experts in K-12 classroom pedagogy, calls for education schools to stop letting in any and every education major in the broad sense of the subject area. Instead, the experts suggest that colleges become more selective to meet the demand of actual student need. Young people that are interested in teaching high-demand subject areas like mathematics, bilingual education, physical science and special education should be viewed as more valuable to institutions of higher learning. This needs-based philosophy addresses actual voids in the industry and better equips schools to meet students’ needs.
  • Virtual learning options. Though colleges often get all of the attention when it comes to online learning programs, K-12 education is also shifting more toward distance learning options. During the 2010-2011 school year, 1.8 million students in grades K-12 were enrolled in some type of distance learning program. That is up from just 50,000 in the 2000-2001 school year, according to the International Association for K-12 Online Learning. This is a trend that teachers-to-be simply cannot ignore. Virtual learning is not reserved for only those that can afford it; 40 U.S. states have state-run online programs and 30 of those states provide statewide, full-time K-12 schools. The University of Central Florida is one of the only schools to offer a virtual-school emphasis for education majors that lets students apprentice with Florida Virtual School instructors.
  • Continued classroom learning for administrators. Since the people at the top are generally the decision-makers, they should be required to return to the field every now and then. On the other hand, the teachers that are actually in the student trenches should be empowered to help change educational policy based on the reality of the modern classroom. The Center for Quality Teaching supports a “teacherpreneur” program that would “blur the lines… between those who teach… and those who lead.” Actionable strides toward closing the public education gap between teachers and administrators are necessary for real, effective change to take place in K-12 classrooms.

Public education in America needs teachers that are better trained to meet the needs of specific student populations, those that understand the necessary role of distance learning, and those that are willing to speak up to facilitate classroom change. Without these teachers, effective reform to meet global demand is not possible.

How have the roles of teachers changed over the years in your opinion? What is the single greatest obstacle that teachers face that stands in the way of maximum K-12 student achievement?


Click here to read all our posts concerning the Achievement Gap.


0 Replies to “Necessary Shifts: A Change in K-12 Teacher Education”

  1. The state I live in has THREE virtual online public schools! I imagine most of the certified teachers who monitor the activities of these students were never trained in the use of a virtual classroom as a college student. They do require the teachers to have a few online lessons, but most teachers in these virtual schools do more administrative work than teach.

  2. I imagine the best school administrators are the ones that stay in the classroom at least a little bit. What would be wrong with an administrator teaching one class a semester?

    1. What would be wrong with it? Well, for starters the administrator would actually understand the personality of the student body a bit better. He/she would even maybe understand what types of things the teachers actually go through. That would be a crime. . . (Sarcasm intended)

  3. The single greatest obstacle to stand in the way of education right now is the teacher who does not want to take part in the global paradigm shift the world is going through right now. This is the English teacher who refuses to allow students to use Google for their research papers. It’s the teacher who doesn’t want to utilize the vast amount of learning tools available on the Internet. The teacher is the greatest obstacle.

  4. In my mind, the biggest single obstacle standing in the way of teachers helping students reach maximum achievement is the structure of the educational establishment. Teachers are the ones who know what works, yet they are not consulted by those in power. You have a Secretary of Education who has never taught in the classroom pushing a corporate agenda, you have legislators creating laws that educators must follow without the legislators consulting those educators, you have superintendents wanting to please their school boards and cooperating with the government bureaucracy so as to get maximum funds for their districts, you have school administrators doing what they feel they need to do in order to win approval of their superintendents and school boards, while no one consults the experts, i.e., the teachers. HeidiBelt’s suggestion that administrators teach at least one class is an excellent idea, as then they will have an eye on what is happening in the classroom. During my years in the classroom, we called going from being a teacher to being an administrator “crossing to the dark side” because it seemed that almost immediately those former teachers would forget what it was like in their new administrative positions, their new interest being only to please their supervisors as opposed to using their new position to help make it better in the classroom.

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  6. Hello….Dr.Lynch (Katie Parsons has asked me to blog for your wonderful website)

    I think I have a much needed book…for a revolution in EDUCATION! as Ken Robinson refers to on Ted Talk.
    My book is currently being published by Rowman & Littlefield Educational Department (under Tom Koerner, V.P. and Carlie Wall,Associate Editor)
    The publishing of this book will be completed by spring, as I am now told…pre-orders now on bookstores all over the world…and of course,!

    In addition, I taught in Vancouver School District for over 17 years, and in Clovis Unified School District for 23 years in California. I also supervised Concordia’s Student Teachers during my retirement..
    I would be eager to talk with you about any upcoming conferences or trade fairs that I may present in.

    My book is :
    “Seven Steps to Help Boys Love School: Teaching to their Passion for Less Frustration!” By Linda M. Gilliam

    In order for us to even come close to closing the nation’s educational gap, the future of America depends on creating successful students by the 3rd Grade.
    Now with so many students coming into America from different countries, languages, and cultures…our Educational System is ripe for a drastic change.

    A successful student (boys in particular) will lead to less bullying, fewer drop outs, less suicides….and most importantly…. a happy, productive human being.

    I discovered a program as a Literacy Specialist, addressing a successful way to reach all children, by teaching basic skills through whatever passion they had at the time. (Passion or Interest)
    When using my program, I also realize that Passions can change, but the basic learning tools are well established in Reading, Writing, Spelling, Science, and Math by 3rd Grade.

    I was proud to receive “Teacher of the Year” for my efforts in Vancouver.
    My “7 Steps to Help Boys Love School,, can be applied in Homeschooling as well.
    In my opinion this book could be an asset to parents, teachers, caregivers, coaches and hopefully administrators as well,

    It is my belief, that over my 40 years of teaching (and lucky for me my passion), our antiquated schools systems have changed very little.
    Now with the new Common Core Standards, help for struggling students, parents, and teachers is needed more than ever!

    As we have witnessed…Education can spend all the money in the world… but WILL get the same “lack luster” results if we do not change HOW we are teaching.
    Reminding me of the definition of INSANITY: “Doing the same things over and over, and expecting a different result!”.

    HOPING TO HEAR BACK FROM YOU, Linda Gilliam 360 944-0789
    With appreciation for reading this, Linda M. Gilliam 🙂

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