The disquieting and undeniable reality, Mr. Schwartz maintains, is that novice teachers are not adequately prepared by their colleges and universities for the classroom circumstances found in typical city schools. He suggests ways to deal with that problem.
About one of every five new teachers (18.5%) will leave the New York City public school system after just one year. About one of three (31%) will leave after three years. Are city schools so difficult to teach in, or have these new teachers not been properly prepared to educate our urban youngsters?
The public and many educators seem to feel that public schools should bear the full responsibility for this sad attrition rate. But shouldn't colleges that prepare teachers assume some reasonable accountability for fulfilling their alleged mission? The reputations of law schools, medical schools, engineering schools, and so on are determined primarily by the accomplishments of their graduates. Why shouldn't we invoke comparable criteria for colleges of education?
One key issue in the colleges' preparation of teachers is the nature of student teaching. Research studies consistently find that a high percentage of prospective and practicing teachers regard student teaching as their most valuable training experience.(1)
The usual student teaching scenario goes like this. Professors arrange student teaching placements in schools that are "exemplary." This practice offers prospective teachers favorable environments in which they can learn from successful teachers. They usually work in one or two classrooms under the supervision of excellent teachers, and they are encouraged to interact with other faculty members to become familiar with a variety of effective teaching practices. After graduation, these …