Posted by Barnett Berry on Tuesday, 10/08/2013
Looking for an example of teachers who are at the table rather than on the menu?
I arrived in Singapore yesterday for the convening of the Asia Society’s Global Cities Education Network (GCEN), joined by CTQ staffer Kris Kohl (photobombing above) and classroom experts from the CTQ Collaboratory—(left to right) Paul Charles (Toronto), Noah Zeichner (Seattle, WA), Ali Wright (Lexington, KY), and Karen Wagner (Denver, CO).
Along with Cynthia Seto and Irene Tan of Singapore and Jianlan Xu of Shanghai, these practitioners make up CTQ’s first international team of teacher leaders (eventually to be joined by teachers from Hong Kong, Melbourne, and Houston). The team will contribute to the policy deliberations of ministers, superintendents, chief academic officers, and other leaders from the GCEN cities.
The GCEN will focus on defining 21st-century skills; refining instructional policy accordingly; and building teachers' capacity to ensure students' mastery of global competencies. This last item means getting serious about teacher education and professional learning for those who teach. In a 2012 OECD report, Andreas Schleicher wrote:
The (curricular) goals of the past were standardization and conformity, today it is about being ingenious, about personalizing educational experiences… The kind of teaching needed today requires teachers to be high-level knowledge workers who constantly advance their own professional knowledge as well as that of their profession.
In the United States, policy leaders offer plenty of rhetoric on these matters—consider, for example, the Department of Education’s RESPECT Project—but very little action. The US has no strategy to deeply prepare all new recruits; to address astoundingly high rates of teacher turnover in high-need schools; or to cultivate and utilize classroom experts as leaders.
Meanwhile, in Singapore, professionalizing the teacher workforce has been a top priority for years—and students' high test scores demonstrate the impact. Similarly, in Shanghai, accomplished teachers like Collaboratory member Jianlan Xu teach about 13-15 hours per week, working in hybrid roles that allow them to conduct lesson studies, analyze data, and mentor colleagues.
Over the next few days, our international team of Collaboratory members will share insights about the ground realities of teaching, informing the deliberations of the GCEN cities' policymakers.
Stay tuned for lessons learned—and for the next generation of ideas and recommendations from those who teach and lead.