Teacher Prep: Learning The Profession's Ethical Demands

In America, we rely on multiple institutions and as many pathways to train new educators in the fundamentals of the teaching craft. Reformers have routinely called for more systematic approaches, prominent among them transforming teacher education to model the clinical training, research practices and mentoring of doctors.

Americans, however, tend to believe that anyone can teach--even with minimal preparation or instruction in the hows and whys of teaching. Just as troubling, many cling to the notion that the best way to train new teachers is--to simply to leave them on their own in front of desks full of students, in a classroom of their own, and close the door.

Yet, if we are concerned about the dropout rates of our students in classrooms where many of the desks are now empty, we should be equally concerned about the staggering dropout rates of teachers, one third of whom close the door on teaching after just 3 years into their careers. When our teachers are leaving at about the same rate as the average career time of athletes in the National Football League, shouldn't we pay closer attention to what is happening to teacher dropouts too? No doubt, burnout-prone working conditions, lack of support and influence, commonly identified in teacher attrition surveys, deserve our scrutiny. 

At the same time, we think anyone interested in teaching should consider very carefully their reasons for wanting to go into the profession in the first place, that is before they are ethically responsible for students' well-being, fair treatment and for intelligently introducing their subject matter in a classroom of their own.  

This is exactly what Caroline Kuttner is doing in her work as a supervisor in an established before and after-school learning program at a local alternative public charter school. In her current role, Caroline works side by side with seasoned teachers, and in so doing, is discovering what the ethical demands and expectations for being a teacher with staying power are and should be. In this podcast, Caroline tells us about what she has learned about the ethics of her profession and what it will take for an aspiring educator like her to make a commitment to stay in teaching.