There’s an ongoing discussion in the education community about what we can learn from the training of our armed forces to better prepare and develop our teachers. With just 13 weeks of intensive core training, the Marines manage to turn young men and women, most with no prior military experience, into a highly-skilled, effective fighting force.
Yet, as Andy Rotherham writes Time, “in American schools, we still haven’t figured out how to give our teaching force—whose members are college graduates, more than half of whom have advanced degrees—autonomy and accountability in a far less dynamic workplace.”
Teach For America corps members at summer institute.
Over the last 22 years, Teach For America has conducted its own intense introductory training for its corps members: summer institute, which consists of five action-packed weeks split between teaching and soaking up classes ranging from classroom management to lesson planning. The environment is nonstop, with the aim to start optimistic corps members—many with no prior teaching experience—on a lifelong journey of becoming effective educators. The hours are long, hard and, given the stakes, completely warranted.
Summer institute has been on my mind as I recently went through the latest “Pre-Institute Work” for 2012 corps members and found myself pleasantly surprised, but still wanting more. While Teach For America’s training and development of corps members is light years ahead of what I experienced when I was at Philadelphia institute many years ago, we have yet to fully embrace the use—and reap the benefits of—education technology (“ed tech”).