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Readers Respond

Teacher training is, at best, incomplete

It is refreshing to read an education article that puts the responsibility for failure on someone or something other than the teacher. In their commentary on teacher training ("Poor teacher training hurts kids," June 25), the authors (both are school principals) indicate that teacher training programs are inadequate for preparing our current teachers to tackle the challenges of the modern day classroom environment.

As a veteran special education teacher, I have watched the changes occur in the population that I teach. These students would have previously been educated in special schools but are instead attending their home school, and this presents a myriad of issues that are difficult to tackle. These same challenges exist in every classroom, in every school, especially in an urban setting like Baltimore City.

Instead of requiring the completion of a research project or portfolio that no one will ever look at again, it would behoove teacher training programs to arm new teachers with practical and useful course work. They are ill-prepared to handle difficult students and parents. Extending the practice teaching time to include two semesters of interning and assigning a newly-hired teacher to a mentor teacher within the building for a period of 1-2 years is a reasonable and valuable recommendation.

The difficulty here lies in getting university program directors to realize that changes must be made to prepare novice teachers in meeting the challenges of the present day classroom. Professors and policy makers need to spend more than a class period inside of a classroom to see what it is really like. There is no question that revamping teacher training programs would benefit all concerned. Our future teachers and their students' successes depend on it.

Carol Messier

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