It is time, finally, to start training teachers the way we train doctors and pilots, with intense, realistic practice... to stop saying teaching is hard work and start acting like it. -- The Atlantic's Amanda Ripley
He links to this short article in the Atlantic titled Boot Camp for Teachers that starts with a former Air Force commander suggesting it is harder being a teacher than it was being a commander.
Before the Air Force technician George Deneault flew combat missions, he had to practice—a lot. “You can’t fool around on combat aircraft.” But when Deneault retired and became a special-ed math teacher, he walked into a Virginia classroom cold. When asked which was easier—being a military commander or being a teacher—he didn’t hesitate. “Commander.”
I don't know if the answer is to implement military training practices in preparing teachers, but I agree with the need for much more practice before teachers have the primary responsibility for the learning of young people at any grade level. The traditional student teaching model does not provide the quantity of practice necessary for prospective teachers to experience the multitude of decision making opportunities a teacher faces in any given day. This takes practice opportunities and the support of an expert coach. Feedback is necessary and the coach must also have the capacity to ask reflective questions so that the learner can reflect and evaluate her/his practice.
Practicing teachers also need feedback and reflection to grow their practice. In the absence of feedback, most of us will not learn, apply, and evaluate new strategies. We instead continue to do what we believe is right and familiar to us. Unfortunately, the norm in our profession for emerging and practicing teachers is little feedback and little focus on reflection, something we are trying to change with our Classroom 10 goal focused on key content.
When was the last time you were asked a reflective question that made you reflect and consider the actions you took or are planning to take in a future lesson? What was that question? If you have recently experienced this opportunity I believe that you do remember it as well as who asked it, when it was asked, and how you responded. These are learning opportunities that we cherish and wish for more. Consider sharing your question in a comment to this post.