State University of New York administrators and professors from every system college offering teacher-education programs gathered in Albany Thursday to share ideas on how to prepare future teachers for state-mandated classroom requirements.
New York’s teachers are dealing with several new reform initiatives, including a high-stakes teacher- and principal-evaluation system and more stringent curricula for math and English. Starting in 2014, those studying to be teachers will be evaluated differently, with more of a focus on classroom interaction during student teaching.
SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher addressed the group Thursday morning, calling this time a “crisis point” for teacher education, when those leading education schools have lost confidence in their work.
“We need a very bold idea to take us to another place,” Zimpher said, adding that schools are not satisfied with the product — the new teachers — SUNY is delivering to them.
Zimpher referred to how today’s doctors and nurses are taught, using human-like simulators that exhibit vital signs and symptoms.
“Health care is not backing away from the preparation of doctors and nurses and allied medical professionals because the stakes are too high,” she said. “We have to assert what we need to create the teachers of tomorrow.”
She showed a video about an initiative at the University of Central Florida, where student teachers work before a screen where they see computer-generated students controlled by professors and digital media students.
She suggested creating “centers of pedagogy” where students can learn to be teachers in laboratory settings. She said SUNY could be a nationwide leader in this teaching style.
“We have an incredile capacity to take our work to scale,” she said.