Editor’s note: I’ve asked members of the JEA Mentoring Committee, mentors and others to share their views about what should be included in teacher preparation programs. Peggy Gregory is a member of the JEA Mentoring Committee and helps plan and conduct the Mentor Forums at the JEA/NSPA conventions. She is the Language Arts Specialist for the Dysart Unified School District in Arizona. She has been a teacher-mentor for first-, seond-, and third-year teachers for 10 years.

by Peggy Gregory
Mentoring Committee

Peggy Gregory

I think there are two primary tools teachers need to take into their classroom: a knowledge of procedures and how to teach them and the concept of modeling learning for students.

The first, procedures, needs to be taught from the first day and minute the students enter the classroom. Student should know how to enter the classroom, where should they pick up handouts and supplies, what should they do immediately (bell work) and what should that look like/sound like. Teachers should think of every procedure (something that is taught and re-taught but not punished) needed for before, during and after lessons and teach those at appropriate times. Harry Wong’s method includes:

•      Explain – state, explain, model and demonstrate (students can live it, write it, observe it)

•      Rehearse – practice under supervision (can be rehearsed verbally with ask/pause/call numerous times)

•      Reinforce – reteach, rehearse, practice and reinforce until it is a habit

For the journalism teacher a must-have procedure is how students are to be released for interviews during class. (Grab your press pass on the lanyard off the hook, tell the teacher specifically where you need to go and why, make sure she acknowledges you and gives explicit permission if several students are surrounding her, return when you are finished with your business, return your press pass/lanyard to the hook.)

The other essential tool for every lesson is modeling. The caveats are that models must be perfect (20+ times to undo wrong learning) and labeled. The best models are teacher-generated because then the teacher can foresee the problems that might arise. Even processes can be modeled. So, students know headline rules, but how do they attack the writing of a good headline? Teachers can model the process. In this case, of course, part of the message is that you cannot give up until you have a good headline that follows the rules!


What recommendations do you have for what teacher preparation programs should include?