Thanks to everyone who took time and participated in the $5 billion challenge last week. A lot of great ideas came across. The one that jumped out at me most was Trixie’s idea:

Create a new role for the classroom called an “Associate Teacher” that works with a teacher for 2 years before becoming a full-fledged teacher. Every classroom team would include a teacher, an associate teacher and a teacher assistant. It would cost a lot of money to run, but would help meet the needs of all children.

I’m not necessarily crazy about all the specifics here, but it’s a big idea and I do like the idea of using people in different ways. This strategy would be one way to help middle and high school teachers teach a lot more writing, for instance. And, bringing teacher training closer to where the work is actually done has a great deal of merit. So in terms of big picture approaches, Trixie aims at the right issues. Trixie, pop me an email and I’ll send you a book.

Update: Panic at the Pondiscio likes it but Flypaper doesn’t.

7 Replies to “Winner”

  1. That’s a great idea, deserves the prize, but will never happen where I work. And I’ll tell you two things I want before it does:

    1. a classroom, not a closet (or even a trailer, though it beats the hell out of the closet).


    2. a whiteboard.

    While smartboards and newer tablet computers are impressive, they are expensive, so I know I’ll never get either (let alone a computer) in my classroom. But I really like whiteboards. My handwriting becomes magically legible when I use them.

    Those are my demands. I only regret I didn’t have time to cut up magazines and put them in the form of a ransom note.

  2. Yay! Thanks for choosing my idea! I keep telling my staff that I will try to get these ideas into play when I switch to politic(when my kids get older!)

    What do you think of this idea:

    All student teachers/interns need to spend a whole year with a cooperating teacher to enable them to see the “big picture”. Wouldn’t it be nice to see how a classroom develops through an entire year instead of a short stint. (Most practicums here last 3-4 months). You would be ready to conquer the world on your own the next year!

    I had a student teacher with me this Jan-April that taught with me on Mondays and Tuesdays and took her university classes on Wed-Fri where they discussed what they observed. Too bad we couldn’t have done it all year! We learned a great deal from each other.

    Thanks for the great discussion!

  3. Trixie is right on target.

    This should be REQUIRED for anyone entering the field of teaching. It would give students needed practice. And eliminate the policy of sticking those without experience in the classroom. Its, uh, what med schools have been doing for years (internship and residency).

    Why this hasn’t been done sooner is anyone’s guess. But the NYC Educator’s “No We Can’t” attitude gives one a sense of the kind of things one runs up against when trying to promote an idea that is not only sensible but should have been done a long time ago.

  4. @barone and @trixie

    Two things, this is required for all traditional educators. It’s called student teaching. Yes, Trixie, some student teaching stints last longer than others, but as a person who went through student teaching, after several months you begin to wonder why you are working so hard for no stipend and no pay. At least as a medical resident you get a stipend and have a career ahead of you where you can expect to be able to support a family.

    Also if you look at places like Rochester and Toledo with their intern/mentor program and Peer Assistance and Review program (respectively), you will find many of the same ideas have been codified in the teacher contracts for beginning teachers as a result of the of the unions working with the local school administration.

  5. The best use of $5 billion for the US education system, I think, would be to find more productive things to do for our nation’s legion of talking head education bloggers.

  6. Right on, Trixie. As a “para” that was really acting as a teacher, I could have used this kind of model and learned a lot. Without that formal structure, I had to find my own mentors and just swim as best I could on my own. I’ve always liked the idea of more teachers of different levels in a classroom.

    But I guess I did okay, since I met up with one of my former students later on and mentioned something about, well, I was just an assistant, and she said, “What are you talking about, Ms. Smith? You were the *teacher*”. It was nice to hear, but I still think I would have done better with some real mentoring and role models.

  7. Congratulations!

    Some other ideas to incorporate in the two-year program might be the following (depending on how much autonomy you have with the spending):

    Encourage the new teachers to incorporate technology into their classroom practice (while they are working cooperatively and have the time to investigate)

    Create a website where they can post lesson ideas, links, hand-outs etc. to share, indexed by subject/topic (hire someone to handle the details of its organization so they can focus on the lesson and post)

    Challenge the apprentices to find new and better ways of involving parents in their child’s education.

    Best wishes!!

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