TESTING - Chapter 3
Tony Wagner's conversation surrounding testing raised some great questions for reflection after 10 years of No Child Left Behind. I agree that teaching to the test and requiring students to simply recall facts and formulas does not prepare our students to be successful in college and the current marketplace. Motivating students is particularly important when it comes to their performance on tasks, but how many students are motivated to try their hardest on a standardized test that don't count for their grade? Are we really getting authentic results of the learning that happens in classrooms across the nation? Do we necessarily need a uniform system to assess students? Also, if we know these tests are bad for our education system, how are we going to hold students and teachers accountable and ensure authentic learning is, in fact, happening in the classroom? Wagner argues that we have an effective and more meaningful accountability system, but we don't necessarily have the political will to implement them. As far as testing and assessing my students in my own classroom, I am going to try and steer away from multiple choice tests and assess my students with more rigorous mathematics problems and projects in order to engage my students and develop the critical thinking skills they need to be successful citizens.
TEACHER ED - Chapter 4
Wagner takes a hard look at teacher training programs across the nation and concludes that most programs do not effectively prepare teachers for their career. Not only are teachers placed in a classroom without experience and the feedback they need, they start teaching and rarely get evaluated constructively. They essentially get isolated as a teacher and grow complacent with their teaching style. I feel that the co-teaching model at CSUSM is a more effective way to prepare teacher candidates for their first day of school. Having two semesters at two different schools, teaching and assisting in a variety of classes, and being observed and given feedback by university supervisors might be a system that Wagner would approve of. Of course, there are some skills that will only come from completely having your own classroom, but I feel that the rigor of the program at CSUSM adequately prepares us for our first year of teaching....although, we will see next year :) If I were to tweak the program in any way, I would have a little less focus on coursework and more focus on getting coaching through real life teaching experiences at our school sites and more lessons and teaching activities to have in our tool box. Not that this isn't a part of the program, but added focus on this aspect is what I would change. In addition, after reading chapter 4 and after being at two different school sites, I am realizing that the school you decide to teach at has a huge impact on your motivation and happiness as a teacher. It is important to choose a school and district that aligns with your teaching belief system and will give you support in the classroom, constructive feedback on teaching style, ongoing training, and be a culture where you think you can grow and be motivated.