Academic journal article The International Schools Journal

Meeting the Needs of a Changing Landscape: New Innovations in International Teacher Preparation

Academic journal article The International Schools Journal

Meeting the Needs of a Changing Landscape: New Innovations in International Teacher Preparation

Article excerpt

Setting the stage

The world of teacher preparation is a quickly changing landscape. Technology, needs of the marketplace and economics are necessitating innovations in how we educate children and, in turn, how we prepare our teachers to teach them. In some instances the need for preparation of teachers has been the responsibility of the state and/or nation; in others it has been outsourced to business; and, in still others, it continues to be the responsibility of colleges and universities. W hat is consistent, despite the changing landscape and variance in who is responsible for teacher preparation, is parents' desire to have high quality, expert instruction from a caring individual for their children.

At a recent international conference, ISC Research Ltd ( January 2015) provided an update on the economics and marketing needs of international schools worldwide. Growth has been exponential, according ISC CEO Nick Brummet, who noted that global English-medium schools have expanded from approximately 2500 in the year 2000 to over 7000 in 2015.

The staffing needs for these schools also grew from approximately 90,000 teachers to more than 362,000, with the majority of these schools seeking some sort of western accreditation for the purposes of guaranteeing the quality of the teaching staff and the content of the curriculum (ECIS, February 2015). The sheer growth of international, English-medium schools is challenging school Heads, human resource directors, and colleagues to find highly qualified, well prepared teachers that meet the standards of the school and accreditation body.

The quest to prepare strong educators

The need for highly qualified teachers in international schools is immense and growing, and there is a call for teacher preparation programs to respond to the needs not only of international schools, but also to the changing landscape of education. Fundamentally, teacher preparation programs seek to prepare teachers to be the best possible educators. The question is, however, what does that mean? Richard Leblanc (2010), winner of the Seymous Schulich Award for Teaching Excellence, wrote that

Good teaching ... is about not only motivating students to learn, but teaching them how to learn, and doing so in a manner that is relevant, meaningful, and memorable... Good teaching is about doing your best to keep on top of your f ield, reading sources, inside and outside of your areas of expertise, and being at the leading edge as often as possible... Good teaching is about listening, questioning, being responsive and remembering that each student and class is different... Good teaching is about not always having a fixed agenda and being rigid, but being f lexible, f luid, experimenting, and having the confidence to react and adjust to changing circumstances...

The task for teacher preparation programs, then, is to find ways to help shape teacher candidates into practicing teachers who are prepared to strive towards and meet these goals.

In 1987, Lee Shulman set the stage for our current thinking on how to prepare teacher educators by offering seven key areas that teachers need to be well-versed in to be effective in the classroom. Two decades later, Shulman's framework still provides a guiding structure of key areas that teacher preparation programs need to focus upon in order to generate strong teachers able to meet the demands of today's classrooms.

1. Content knowledge

W hile this seems quite obvious, it cannot be overlooked how vital knowledge of the content area is to any teacher's success in the classroom. For elementary teachers, this spans across all subjects in the curricula, and for secondary teachers, it focuses upon the teacher's subject area. While it is hoped that teachers enter the classroom with robust knowledge of their content area, there are times when digging deeper or refreshing one's memory will be necessary.

It is therefore equally assumed that teachers who feel gaps within their knowledge base of their assigned class material will take the initiative to research, study, and prepare themselves so that they are well versed in the material. …

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