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Teacher education refers to the policies and procedures designed to equip teachers with the knowledge, attitudes, behaviours and skills they require to perform their tasks effectively in the school and classroom.
Teacher education is often divided into:
- initial teacher training / education (a pre-service course before entering the classroom as a fully responsible teacher);
- induction (the process of providing training and support during the first few years of teaching or the first year in a particular school);
- teacher development or continuing professional development (CPD) (an in-service process for practicing teachers).
The process of mentoring is also relevant.
Initial teacher education may be organized according to two basic models.
In the 'consecutive' model, a teacher first obtains a qualification (often a first university degree), and then studies for a further period to gain an additional qualification in teaching; (in some systems this takes the form of a post-graduate degree, possibly even a Masters).
The alternative is where a student simultaneously studies both an academic subject and the ways of teaching that subject, leading to a qualification as a teacher of that subject.
Other pathways are also available. In some countries, it is possible for a person to receive training as a teacher under the responsibility of an accredited experienced practitioner in a school.
Teacher Education in many countries takes place in institutions of Higher Education.
The question of what knowledge, attitudes, behaviours and skills teachers should possess is the subject of much debate in many cultures. This is understandable, as teachers are entrusted with the transmission to children of society's beliefs, attitudes and deontology, as well as of information, advice and wisdom.
Generally, Teacher Education curricula can be broken down into these blocks:
- foundational knowledge and skills--usually this area is about education-related aspects of philosophy of education, history of education, educational psychology, and sociology of education
- content-area and methods knowledge--often also including ways of teaching and assessing a specific subject, in which case this area may overlap with the first ("foundational") area. There is increasing debate about this aspect; because it is no longer possible to know in advance what kinds of knowledge and skill pupils will need when they enter adult life, it becomes harder to know what kinds of knowledge and skill teachers should have. Increasingly, emphasis is placed upon 'transversal' or 'horizontal' skills (such as 'learning to learn' or 'social competences', which cut across traditional subject boundaries, and therefore call into question traditional ways of designing the Teacher Education curriculum (and traditional ways of working in the classroom).
- practice at classroom teaching or at some other form of educational practice--usually supervised and supported in some way, though not always. Practice can take the form of field observations, student teaching, or internship (See Supervised Field Experiences below.)
Supervised Field Experiences
- field observations--include observation and limited participation within a classroom under the supervision of the classroom teacher
- student teaching--includes a number of weeks teaching in an assigned classroom under the supervision of the classroom teacher and a supervisor (e.g. from the university)
- internship--teaching candidate is supervised within his or her own classroom
These three areas reflect the organization of most teacher education programs in North America (though not necessarily elsewhere in the world)--courses, modules, and other activities are often organized to belong to one of the three major areas of teacher education. The organization makes the programs more rational or logical in structure. The conventional organization has sometimes also been criticized, however, as artificial and unrepresentative of how teachers actually experience their work. Problems of practice frequently (perhaps usually) concern foundational issues, curriculum, and practical knowledge simultaneously, and separating them during teacher education may therefore not be helpful.
Feedback on the performance of teachers is integral to many state and private education procedures, but takes many different forms. The 'no fault' approach is believed by some to be satisfactory, as weaknesses are carefully identified, assessed and then addressed through the provision of in service training.
As a profession teaching has very high levels of Work-Related Stress (WRS) which are listed as amongst the highest of any profession in some countries, such as the United Kingdom. The degree of this problem is becoming increasingly recognised and support systems are being put into place.
- Cooperating teachers
- Education students
- Inservice teacher education
- Normal school
- Practicum supervision
- Preservice teachers
- Student teaching
- Educational psychology
- Social foundations of education
- School of Education
- Research on Teacher Education in the Developing World
- Teacher leadership in developing countries
- Teaching Educational Psychology
- Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy