During the next 80 years, I see education becoming more equitable regarding gender and ethnicity as we continue to develop and fund programs that provide skilled teachers to areas in need. I also imagine that standardized testing must shift so that students may prove what they know in a more holistic way. As more options are being provided by school districts for students to take classes online, to practice trade skills or to take dual-enrollment classes, students have the best opportunities that anyone has ever seen!
For this reason, now more than ever, teachers must be consistent and remain loyal to what we know. We know the nature of math and science, the purpose of education and how children learn. All of these things point to the Learning Cycle for being the best tool to provide new information to upcoming generations. The more schools employ teachers who are passionate in the STEM fields, the more authentic our children’s experiences will be in the classroom.
The Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System (T-TESS) is a fantastic tool to measure teachers’ effectiveness. Teachers must be held accountable to meet these domains, and if not, measures must be taken to remediate the problems, no matter their tenure. Professional development and individual growth plans must be required for every teacher, because being a life-long learner is simply part of the profession. A teacher cannot be allowed to remain stagnant in his or her practices and remain in the same position. This will negatively impact our students, thus contributing to America’s troubles.
As far as the structure of the education system, I would ask for teachers to travel with their students for at least a three-year cycle. Speaking from a middle school perspective, so much time and effort is made to build relationships with students, only for them to move to another teacher a year later. During these trying years as a pre-teen, students would benefit tremendously if they remained with the same support system of teachers throughout their middle school career.
To ensure that these philosophies are adopted and implemented, I would provide a rigorous and robust teacher training for free to any and all who are willing to dedicate themselves to serve as a teacher. Pre-service teachers would be assigned an expert mentor teacher to observe and learn from for at least two years (similar to a doctor’s residency training). These tuition-free mentee positions would be paid minimum wage while they complete the course. This boot camp-like preparation would be the only way a teacher qualifies to take a nation-wide exam for a teaching license (similar to a board certification exam). We have to take teacher preparation more seriously and be picky about who we trust to educate our children, just like we are picky about the doctors we trust to heal our bodies.
Lastly, to prevent teacher burnout, there must be extraordinary encouragement for teachers in areas of teacher pay, paid time off, support groups, maternity leave and school funding. If this all falls into place, society will view the teacher in the same rank as a doctor and education will be on its way up!