What else don’t they teach you in Teacher Ed?

Earlier this week, I posted this Facebook status, knowing my weekend was going to be spent marking and writing report cards.

Facebook Status - Work-LifeBalance

There was a hint of humour in that post, but those of you who know me or are in the profession will detect exhaustion and frustration among other emotions.

I woke up this Sunday morning with this post written by my good friend, Doug Peterson, on my Facebook newsfeed. It was as if it was meant to be my morning procrastination reading. Titled, What They Don’t Teach You in Teachers’ College, Doug refers to this article discussing teachers’ unpaid work, and he briefly mentions some of the activities and associations in which teachers participate. The original survey and report by the UK’s Department for Education can be found here.

Those who are new to the profession will quickly learn the “extra hours, extra work, stuff they don’t teach you in teacher ed” stuff. Starting out, I was hyper-aware and sensitive to these realities, especially for new teachers – thanks to my professors, Clare Kosnik and Clive Beck. Particularly, in Clive’s class, we discussed the struggles of new teachers as seen in their own longitudinal research.

This morning, I am not only thinking about my own privilege in knowing about and analyzing this research with Clive, but also how my own teacher training enabled me to learn from some of the best educators in this province. Sure, I had four amazing practicum placements, but my own work brought me to talk with and/or observe dozens of teachers about their current practices, pedagogy, and experiences. I like to think my teacher education experience opened the doors for authentic dialogue, networking and mentorship.

So Doug’s piece got me thinking – what didn’t they teach me in Teacher Ed?

Reflecting on my own trajectory, which includes a short campaign in the 2012 by-election for TDSB Trustee (Ward 20), I realize we did not have any conversation about large-scale change, improvement, and activism.

Sure, we all knew the Ontario teacher job market was grim – we never discussed what others doing about it. What were we do about it? Do we passively wait for our turn, for these coveted opportunities for employment? Shout out to my amazing friend, Kim Fry, I think you were the only person asking these critical questions in class and they all fell on deaf ears.

I’m asking… in what ways do teacher education programs perpetuate the current processes, policies, and systems? In what ways can we be agents of change? advocates? activists? Can this process begin in Teacher Ed? Does it have to wait til we get this burning fire within ourselves to move and mobilize? Heck, we know most teachers will leave the field within 5 years, so it’s more like the burning fire may lead some of us elsewhere.

I suppose this is why I ran for Trustee and why I continue to advocate aggressively in terms of innovation and change in my current school and in education, broadly speaking.

As always and moving forward, I am critical of the ways in which I participate in school settings. If my involvement in schools revolves around innovation and improvement, what does mean for my career trajectory? In spaces will I operate? To what spaces will I contribute? I suppose this is why I have dancing feet – I feel a fire under my feet to move and make change. What that looks like… well, I’m still figuring that out.