Two Missing Elements of Teacher Training?

Posted: June 24, 2013 in Education
Tags: , , ,

Starting out as a new teacher, you might well be asked to take on a Year 12 (or senior) class. On the basis that you have the necessary class skills in hand and know your curriculum, what might be the first fly in the ointment for your new teaching career?

English: A special education teacher assists o...

Teacher skills often extend beyond the class room (Photo credit: Wikipedia).

The chances are, you might well have a parent/teacher evening, or a set of reports to complete before the end of Term 1. Yet, as far as I can tell, most university training does not focus on either of these skills.
In my case, it was comparatively unremarkable. I was not quite 23 and the oldest student was already 18. Admittedly, it was nearly 20 years ago and the night went smoothly enough. Apart from the drunk parent and the couple going through an acrimonious divorce that played out before me. Nothing directed at me personally, but this isn’t really the issue. It was more the sense that I felt like I was winging it, on some sense of what was expected.
Talking to colleagues recently, it seems little has changed. I acknowledge that my survey is hardly extensive. However, it does take in experience from the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia, over the course of the last decade in particular. Even now, I have a prac student about to start an internship – no experience of parent/teacher nights or reports has been provided by the university. Perhaps fortuitously, she will be able to sit in on our scheduled night, and so will gain some experience before going live as a newly employed teacher, on her own.

With reports, it might be a little easier. The chance to look at a set of earlier reports from a colleague, or to have them looked over beforehand certainly exists. But why not take it back a step and look at what reporting ought to entail? A clear understanding of the student, certainly, but what beyond this? Results? Pedagogy? Curriculum goals? What is best avoided?

As for the parent/teacher interview, why not have a practice run, in addition to any school practicum that a trainee teacher might undertake. Having a number of scenario interviews, with unknown adults, provides scope for direction and reflection. Medical students undergo a variation of this in order to both direct their diagnostic skills and ‘bedside’ manner. Surely this is as pertinent in a

I recognise the need for universities to adapt to new teaching methodologies in light of the changing world of ICT. However, these basic skills seem to have been overlooked in the past and continue to do so in the present. Despite other developments, such as the changing realm of ICT, surely teachers will need to be able to write reports and meet with parents for the foreseeable future.

If you have seen programs where these skills are incorporated, I would love to hear about it.

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Comments
  1. […] Two Missing Elements of Teacher Training? (cgparkin.wordpress.com) […]

  2. Nick Ward says:

    I am finishing my tertiary qualifications to be a secondary school teacher (BTeach/BArts at ACU) and we have only be warned about Parent Teacher evening. We have been told that it is confronting experience and just to know our students well. With reporting we have done the statistical side of how to do marks and grades however not how to write reports. Have you worked in a public school? Is there a difference between parent teacher night at a public and private school?

    • cgparkin says:

      I did my pracs at public schools and went to one myself. I also have attended my two children’s p/t events at their public school. From my perspective, the difference is probably in the notion of accountability, particularly if parents are paying (often substantial) school fees. Parents are (probably) more likely to have ongoing connections to staff – the p/t event might be one part of a much larger strategy.
      Thanks for taking the time to pop by, and for the excellent comment/question as well.

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