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A conversation about teaching preparation

December 31, 2012, 9:01 am

Here’s a piece of a conversation I just had with my 8-year old daughter, who is interested in becoming a teacher when she grows up.

Daughter: Dad, if you want to become a teacher, do you have to take classes?

Me: Yes. You have to take a lot of classes about how to teach and a lot of classes in the subjects you want to teach. You need to be really good at math to teach math, for example.

D: Then do you have to go out and teach in the schools, like Mr. D___ [the young man who student-taught in my daughter's elementary school this year]?

Me: That’s right. You have to take classes and you have to go into the schools and practice.

D: Do you have to practice with the little kids?

Me: That depends on who you want to teach. If you want to become an elementary school teacher you work with elementary school kids. If you want to teach in a middle school, then you work with middle school kids. If you want to teach high school, then you work with high school kids.

D: Sounds like you have to be really good to be a teacher.

Me: You bet.

D: Dad, what kind of kids do you teach?

Me: I teach college. I teach grown-ups.

D: So, did you have to go out and practice teaching grown-ups before they let you become a teacher?

Me: [pause] Um… not really. [I'm thinking: I taught some classes in grad school but those were the real deal -- not exactly "practice".]

D: Did you have to take a bunch of classes on how to teach grown-ups before you could teach?

Me: [pause] Um… not really. Actually not at all.

D: [pause; perplexed look on her face; goes back to eating her waffle.]

Discuss.

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