You will not find me among the staunch defenders of traditional teacher education programs.
I'm not the product of one myself (you can read more about that here), but I have sent many students into such programs, as well as hosting a bevy of student teachers from such places. There can be no doubt-- some teacher preparation programs should be completely overhauled. Slavish attention to unimportant details, theory too divorced from actual practice, lack of support for fledgling teachers and, nowadays, far too much emphasis on standards-tilted and test-centered education.
And yet, the only alternatives tossed out there in recent years are worse. Teach for America's theory that an ivy league degree and five weeks of "training" are all you need to stand in a classroom? Nope. Shortage-suffering states that lower the bar to "You must have a pulse to ride this teacher desk"? Double nope. And where do we turn for help on the subject-- to the ridiculous National Council on Teacher Quality and their bogus "research"? Nopity nope nope.
I can think of better ways (just waiting for the phone to ring so I can start my lucrative consulting biz), though I think the most basic problem is that unlike doctors, nurses or physical therapists, teachers are not allowed to be in charge of our own profession. If college programs needed the certification of a board of actual working teachers in order to run their programs, we'd see a new world within just a couple of years.
But of all the things about teacher training that need to be fixed, the biggest gap may be the matter of alternative pathways for late bloomers.
Read this story from a guest poster at Dad Gone Wild. This is the tale of Mary Jo Cramb, a teacher who entered the profession later in life, entering through the back door of TNTP (formerly The New Teacher Project). TNTP is a quieter sibling of TFA, built on the idea of giving somewhat riper CURMUDGUCATION: Alternative Pathways: