First-rate education starts with teaching the teachers
In its recent Viewpoints Sunday edition devoted to improving Arizona's educational outcomes, The Arizona Republic editorial writers sat down with ASU education dean Mari Koerner. During the interview, Koerner bridged two schools of thought by describing her college's innovative approach to producing quality educators.
Koerner told the Republic's Robert Leger that teachers don't have to be experts in either content or pedagogy – they can be both. She described how the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College has cut its pedagogy courses by 25 percent to replace them with content courses in ASU's College of Arts and Sciences, designed specifically for future teachers. At the same time, Teachers Collge started recruiting students who are arts and sciences majors, offering them a shorter teaching certification timeline – with enrollment jumping from zero to 200 in just a year.
The newspaper, in fact, put adopting Koerner's model at the top of its "Top 5" steps for the state's goal of having better teachers. Leger's call to action reads: "#1 – Adopt Arizona State University's innovative approach to teaching teachers.
"The Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College is pioneering a method to produce teachers with solid subject knowledge and ample classroom experience, in addition to refusing to certify those who aren't suited for the classroom. Imagine the impact on the quality of education across the state if every teachers college used this model, dropping the traditional approach that emphasizes how to teach with little attention to what will be taught."
Koerner notes that Teachers College seniors spend twice as much time in the classroom as most student teachers through its iTeachAZ program, called "exemplary" by the National Council on Teacher Quality in 2013. Calling the program "prestgious," she explains: "If you graduate from our program, people like Craig Barrett (retired Intel CEO, who leads Basis Charter Schools) will say, 'This kid must be smart.' That's what superintendents are telling us."