Sunday, May 20, 2012

Why do we study what we don't value?

We recently surveyed 104 teachers representing 12 US states, 4 provinces of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Great Brittan and Japan, teachers from birth through university, with degrees from 92 colleges and universities ranging from none to AA, BA, MA, M.Ed, PhD, in 49 fields of study, with teaching credentials from none to state licensed, province licensed, specialty licensed, endorsed, credentialed, and certified, and teaching experience ranging from 0 to 44 years. What they had in common was access to the internet, and 90% self-identified as white/Caucasian.

Teachers evaluated the various teacher programs they participated in, and how they feel they were prepared in terms of various relationship development factors. 

Teachers then evaluated how supported they felt during the first three years of their teaching.  This is generally a time when mentorship, if available, is provided.  It is also the time that licensed teachers are in a probationary period in many states, and when continuing training and development is required to ensure that teachers have the skills determined key by different states or districts.

Teachers also shared which of these factors they valued most in their teaching.

 In analyzing this data, we decided to compare pre-service preparation and support in the first three years to what was valued most.  The results were striking.  There is an inverse relationship between what we value in education, and what we feel we are prepared for.

In an effort to determine the best methods for educating teachers after the first three years of teaching, teachers were asked where they learned the most about each of these areas.  Experience was selected as the foremost learning tool for all areas overwhelmingly.  The results seem to support the idea that self-initiated training (professional reading, workshops and conferences) and experience are the primary ways that these relationship building skills are learned.

 Questions that arose from this analysis are those surrounding the causes for our values and experiences.  It is possible that we are not well prepared for relationship building despite how we value it.  It is also possible that we grow to value those things we learn on our own over those things we are directly instructed on.

What do you see?

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