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Stephanie Hull on the Future of Teacher Education

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FOR RELEASE: Wednesday, September 24, 2014

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FUTURE OF TEACHER ED: ACADEMIC INSTRUCTION, PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE, MENTORING

WW Responds to The Atlantic Commentary, “How to Make Teachers More Like Doctors”

PRINCETON, N.J.— Stephanie Hull, executive vice president and chief operating officer at the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation issued the following statement in response to Dmitri Mehlhorn’s commentary, “How to Make Teachers More Like Doctors,” published September 23, 2014 in The Atlantic:

The shift in modern American medicine was largely driven by the Flexner Commission, recognizing that the education of physicians more than a hundred years ago had not kept pace and was no longer meeting the needs of the practice of medicine in the early 1900s.

Has the education of teachers and school leaders in the United States reached that same tipping point? It would seem so. Expectations with regard to student learning objectives and outcomes assessment are constantly changing. So are the technologies that schools increasingly rely on. We can hardly expect that the way the nation prepared its teachers a century ago, or even a few decades ago, is sufficient today.

To meet the needs of today’s—and tomorrow’s—students, teachers now need three kinds of preparation, each one equally vital to their success in the classroom.

The first is rigorous, relevant, and up-to-date academic instruction. The second is an intensive clinical experience integrating teaching pedagogy with content pedagogy. And the third is ongoing mentoring, both before they begin teaching and after they are in classrooms of their own.

It is this approach that the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation is currently using in five states to prepare the next generation of STEM educators through our Teaching Fellowship program. We are working with 28 different universities and scores of school districts to ensure a strong pipeline of excellent educators for high-need urban and rural schools in our partner states. And we are now using a similar three-part approach to prepare future school leaders through the Woodrow Wilson MBA Fellowship in Education Leadership, a new effort that has just begun in Indiana and Wisconsin.

In many ways, teachers and school leaders should be more like doctors. But they should also be more like entrepreneurs and executive coaches: We should borrow best practices from these and other post-industrial success stories with a view toward helping all educators, particularly those in high-need schools, achieve excellence. That begins with a strong preparatory program that emphasizes both academic instruction and practical experience, supported with strong mentoring throughout the process.

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About the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation
Founded in 1945, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation (www.woodrow.org) identifies and develops the nation’s best minds to meet its most critical challenges. The Foundation supports its Fellows as the next generation of leaders shaping American society.


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