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Secondary Teacher Excellence: The Personal and the Professional
Unformatted Document Text:  Section I: Content Statement of the issue: Clearly state the issue that focuses your presentation, provide relevant background, and place the problem in a broader academic context. Excellence exists at all levels within the larger scope of American education. However, when the word “excellence” is spoken in conjunction with schools of teacher preparation and colleges of education, those already in the trenches often react with a shrug and a smirk. A host of concerns has derailed the notion of excellence in many of our public schools—not the least of which is the impractical training received and certain unnecessary hoops through which hopeful teachers must jump. Today’s teacher-training and education-research institutions are all over the map literally, it terms of stakeholder expectations, state mandated requirements, program hoops unique to the university, and acquisition of teaching credentials. With a particular need of teachers in high urban areas, “warm bodies” are sometimes placed into work situations with little more than board approval. In some cases, teachers are spending a majority—if not all of their time—instructing in areas in which they are not proficient, or degreed. This is especially true within secondary levels. Their proficiencies lack in areas such as college majors, classes taken, degrees earned, modes of training, and systems within which their hoop-jumping produced a state credentials. Furthermore, there are many teachers in today’s schools who lack the confidence of the administrators who hired them, as well as personal individual personal confidence. One must ask, where is the excellence? Would communities tolerate this kind of mediocrity when it comes to their athletics programs? What are public and private colleges and universities doing about the problems facing American schools today? Are these institutions unconcerned about excellence? How are “cash-cow” university programs meeting the needs of the schools and communities? And what programs are available to get a teaching credential, either through a fast-track, or lengthy traditional system? Do teacher preparation institutions operate by the notion that “a cow, is a cow, is a cow”? Where are the wasted hours and classes in teacher preparation programs? What might be the best educational paradigm for a vast majority of the next generation of educators at the elementary and secondary levels? This paper argues for the education “system” to focus on teacher excellence. Literature review: Provide a synthesis of the literature or knowledge base related to your topic; highlight competing hypotheses or major schools of thought. There are some specific characteristics derived from studies on teacher quality and effectiveness. For example, excellent teachers are (1) Well trained in teacher preparation programs (Darling-Hammond, 2001), (2) Have mastery of their content areas (Lemlech, 1995), (3) Are able to practice and hone their skills in a monitored environment that was overseen by a excellent master teacher (Lemlech, 1995), (4) Are able to secure employment and, while on the job (5) partner with colleagues (Acheson & Gall, 1992), (6) develop effective classroom management and discipline skills (Lemlech, 1995), (7), discover a genuine care and concern for their students (Coles, 1997), (8) continue professional development (Langer 2000), (9), possess consistent and respectable character (Ryan & Bohlin, 1999; Lickona, 1991), (10) analyze themselves through 1

Authors: Zarra, Ernest.
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Section I: Content
Statement of the issue: Clearly state the issue that focuses your presentation, provide relevant
background, and place the problem in a broader academic context.
Excellence exists at all levels within the larger scope of American education. However, when
the word “excellence” is spoken in conjunction with schools of teacher preparation and colleges
of education, those already in the trenches often react with a shrug and a smirk. A host of
concerns has derailed the notion of excellence in many of our public schools—not the least of
which is the impractical training received and certain unnecessary hoops through which hopeful
teachers must jump.
Today’s teacher-training and education-research institutions are all over the map literally, it
terms of stakeholder expectations, state mandated requirements, program hoops unique to the
university, and acquisition of teaching credentials.
With a particular need of teachers in high urban areas, “warm bodies” are sometimes placed into
work situations with little more than board approval. In some cases, teachers are spending a
majority—if not all of their time—instructing in areas in which they are not proficient, or
degreed. This is especially true within secondary levels. Their proficiencies lack in areas such
as college majors, classes taken, degrees earned, modes of training, and systems within which
their hoop-jumping produced a state credentials. Furthermore, there are many teachers in
today’s schools who lack the confidence of the administrators who hired them, as well as
personal individual personal confidence. One must ask, where is the excellence? Would
communities tolerate this kind of mediocrity when it comes to their athletics programs?
What are public and private colleges and universities doing about the problems facing American
schools today? Are these institutions unconcerned about excellence? How are “cash-cow”
university programs meeting the needs of the schools and communities? And what programs are
available to get a teaching credential, either through a fast-track, or lengthy traditional system?
Do teacher preparation institutions operate by the notion that “a cow, is a cow, is a cow”? Where
are the wasted hours and classes in teacher preparation programs? What might be the best
educational paradigm for a vast majority of the next generation of educators at the elementary
and secondary levels? This paper argues for the education “system” to focus on teacher
excellence.
Literature review: Provide a synthesis of the literature or knowledge base related to your
topic; highlight competing hypotheses or major schools of thought.
There are some specific characteristics derived from studies on teacher quality and effectiveness.
For example, excellent teachers are (1) Well trained in teacher preparation programs (Darling-
Hammond, 2001), (2) Have mastery of their content areas (Lemlech, 1995), (3) Are able to
practice and hone their skills in a monitored environment that was overseen by a excellent master
teacher (Lemlech, 1995), (4) Are able to secure employment and, while on the job (5) partner
with colleagues (Acheson & Gall, 1992), (6) develop effective classroom management and
discipline skills (Lemlech, 1995), (7), discover a genuine care and concern for their students
(Coles, 1997), (8) continue professional development (Langer 2000), (9), possess consistent and
respectable character (Ryan & Bohlin, 1999; Lickona, 1991), (10) analyze themselves through
1


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