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Learning to Teach: Series roundup

Mar 31, 2015

For our education series Michigan Radio turned its attention to teacher preparation and retention in Michigan. We talked to teachers and administrators about what it takes to become an excellent educator and how we keep teachers in our K-12 classrooms. 

The entire station was involved across our news, politics, and culture programs. Stories aired on Morning Edition and All Things Considered. On our website we has special features looking at one of the most talked-about, but misunderstood professions today. On Stateside with Cynthia Canty, we featured interviews with teachers and education researchers to find out more about the challenges to teacher retention.

Here's everything we covered. Listen to the teachers, administrators, parents, consultants, and student teachers working to improve Michigan's education system. 

From the Michigan Radio newsroom...

In "Tougher test challenging Michigan's future teachers," Steve Carmody found out from students, administrators, and the Michigan Department of Education why the Professional Readiness Exam, or PRE, is proving to be such a high barrier for aspiring teachers to cross. 

This infographic, Teachers Tell Us, sums up views from students, current teachers, and retired educators on what we need to do to keep the best teachers graduating from Michigan's education programs. 

Credit Auburn Elementary / Auburn Elementary

Our reporter Tracy Samilton joined Oakland University School of Education professors in the classroom at Auburn Elementary. She learned that "at this elementary school, even professors sit in little chairs." They're trying to make sure teaching students, like medical students, get to see educational theory in practice---in the classroom. 

The Oakland University School of Education program follows the medical school model: future doctors don't just sit in classrooms and neither should future teachers.

From State of Opportunity's Dustin Dwyer: a report on an alternative track teaching program making waves in West Michigan.

What does it take to manage students' behavior in today's classroom? Kate Wells sat in with a second grade class and their student teacher to see how new classroom management techniques are working. 

Our reporting from the newsroom concluded with Lindsey Smith talking to teachers, parents, and a former lawmaker about why evaluating teacher effectiveness is so arbitrary.

From Stateside with Cynthia Canty...

How to evaluate teachers, and what criteria to use, is one of the most controversial aspects of teacher training and professional development. Cynthia Canty spoke with Michelle Richards, education specialist with Public Sector Consultants, about her thoughts on how to improve teacher evaluations

The Equity Project was in the news a lot this week and Stateside was no exception to featuring this unique approach to teacher salaries. Cyndy talked with the project's founder to hear what it means to pay teachers more than usual and how that shapes expectations. Cyndy also spoke with Joshua Cowen, an associate professor at the Education Policy Center at Michigan State University, about teacher pay in the state. Cowen's research finds that compensation is about more than money

Learning to Teach concludes on Stateside with a conversation about the role of evaluations in measuring teacher effectiveness. John Austin, president of the State Board of Education, talked with Cyndy. 

From The Next Idea...

Our project on new innovations and ideas that will change our state, The Next Idea, brings us this essay from Keith Kindred. Kindred is a 22-year veteran of Michigan's classrooms. He's seen a lot of what doesn't work in our classrooms: 

"The Walmart Model achieves a head-shaking double whammy. It seeks to remove both the preparation and professionalism from teaching ... In other words, they're trying to take the teacher out of teaching."

Kindred proposes a move from theory-based education programs and training to an apprenticeship model. Read his essay and tell us in the comments what you think of this Next Idea for educational improvements.

In the second Next Idea essay for our education series, the University of Michigan's dean of the School of Education, Deborah Lowenberg Ball, warns that no good will come from society's lack of respect for teaching profession. She tries to get to the root of that disrespect:

The result is a widely shared view of teaching as a uniquely individual pursuit with skills that are learned on the job. In other words, there currently exists no common standard for entry to independent practice with young people. If this were pediatricians we were talking about, there would be outrage.

Ball shares how her school is plotting "a new way forward" with its TeachingWorks program through high-leverage practices

From YOU...

We asked you, "what's the most memorable thing a teacher has said to you?" Including Facebook comments, SoundCloud recordings, and Twitter responses, we had close to 50 of you tell us some compelling stuff. Tales of inspiration. Some dubious teaching methods. Words that pushed you toward your calling. Take in all of those teachers' words, for better or worse, on our Medium website

Our MI Curious  project got in on the Learning to Teach action by tackling this listener question: How many members of the Michigan legislature have children enrolled in traditional (non-charter) public schools

"I think the reason the question resonates with so many is that we wonder whether those who 'make the rules' are invested in or have a real stake in our traditional public schools..." - Martha Toth

Read others' comments on this question. Cyndy talked with Michigan Radio's senior web producer Mark Brush to hear how we went about finding out the answer to this question. We also heard from listener Jeff Salisbury to find out what motivated him to approach MI Curious. 

The conversation continues in our comments sections for each story, on our Facebook page, and on Twitter (#learningtoteach).