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Teacher education refers to the policies and procedures designed to equip prospective teachers with the knowledge, attitudes, behaviors and skills they require to perform their tasks effectively in the classroom, school and wider community.

Although ideally it should be conceived of, and organised as, a seamless continuum, teacher education is often divided into these stages Which is below

  • initial teacher training / education (a pre-service course before entering the classroom as a fully responsible teacher);
  • induction (the process of providing training and support during the first few years of teaching or the first year in a particular school);
  • teacher development or continuing professional development (CPD) (an in-service process for practicing teachers).

There is a longstanding and ongoing debate about the most appropriate term to describe these activities. The term 'teacher training' (which may give the impression that the activity involves training staff to undertake relatively routine tasks) seems to be losing ground, at least in the U.S., to 'teacher education' (with its connotation of preparing staff for a professional role as a reflective practitioner).[1]

Initial teacher education[edit]


In many countries Initial Teacher Education (also known as preservice teacher training) takes place largely or exclusively in institutions of Higher Education. It may be organized according to two basic models.

In the 'consecutive' model, a teacher first obtains a qualification in one or more subjects (often an undergraduate Bachelor's degree), and then studies for a further period to gain an additional qualification in teaching (this may take the form of a post-baccalaureate credential or Master's degree).

In the alternative 'concurrent' model, a student simultaneously studies both one or more academic subjects, and the ways of teaching that subject, leading to a combined Bachelor's degree and teaching credential to qualify as a teacher of that subject.

Other pathways are also available. In some countries, it is possible for a person to receive training as a teacher by working in a school under the responsibility of an accredited experienced practitioner.

In the United States, approximately one-third of new teachers come through alternative routes to teacher certification, according to testimony given by Emily Feistritzer, the President of National Center for Alternative Certification and the National Center for Education Information, to a congressional subcommittee on May 17, 2007. However, many alternative pathways are affiliated with schools of education, where candidates still enroll in university-based coursework. A supplemental component of university-based coursework is community-based teacher education, where teacher candidates immerse themselves in communities that will allow them to apply teaching theory to practice. Community-based teacher education also challenges teacher candidates' assumptions about the issues of gender, race, and multicultural diversity.[2]


The question of what knowledge, attitudes, behaviours and skills teachers should possess is the subject of much debate in many cultures. This is understandable, as teachers are entrusted with the transmission to learners of society's beliefs, attitudes and deontology, as well as of information, advice and wisdom, and with facilitating learners' acquisition of the key knowledge, attitudes and behaviours that they will need to be active in society and the economy.

Generally, Teacher Education curricula can be broken down into four major areas:

  • foundational knowledge in education-related aspects of philosophy of education, history of education, educational psychology, and sociology of education.
  • skills in assessing student learning, supporting English Language learners, using technology to improve teaching and learning, and supporting students with special needs.
  • content-area and methods knowledge and skills—often also including ways of teaching and assessing a specific subject, in which case this area may overlap with the first ("foundational") area. There is increasing debate about this aspect; because it is no longer possible to know in advance what kinds of knowledge and skill pupils will need when they enter adult life, it becomes harder to know what kinds of knowledge and skill teachers should have. Increasingly, emphasis is placed upon 'transversal' or 'horizontal' skills (such as 'learning to learn' or 'social competences', which cut across traditional subject boundaries, and therefore call into question traditional ways of designing the Teacher Education curriculum (and traditional school curricula and ways of working in the classroom).
  • practice at classroom teaching or at some other form of educational practice—usually supervised and supported in some way, though not always. Practice can take the form of field observations, student teaching, or (U.S.) internship (See Supervised Field Experiences below.)

Supervised field experiences[edit]

  • field observations—include observation and limited participation within a classroom under the supervision of the classroom teacher
  • student teaching—includes a number of weeks teaching in an assigned classroom under the supervision of the classroom teacher and a supervisor (e.g. from the university)
  • internship—teaching candidate is supervised within his or her own classroom

These three areas reflect the organization of most teacher education programs in North America (though not necessarily elsewhere in the world)—courses, modules, and other activities are often organized to belong to one of the three major areas of teacher education. The organization makes the programs more rational or logical in structure. The conventional organization has sometimes also been criticized, however, as artificial and unrepresentative of how teachers actually experience their work. Problems of practice frequently (perhaps usually) concern foundational issues, curriculum, and practical knowledge simultaneously, and separating them during teacher education may therefore not be helpful. However, the question of necessary training components is highly debated as continuing increases in attrition rates by new teachers and struggling learners is evident.[3] Additionally, with the increasing demands of the "teacher" research is beginning to suggest that teachers must not only be trained to increase learning experiences for their students, but how to also be a leader in an increasingly challenging field.[4] The debate of how best to prepare teachers for teaching in today's demanding environments will continue to be an important focus of the United States, where the education of all children successfully is priority.

Induction of beginning teachers[edit]

Teaching involves the use of a wide body of knowledge about the subject being taught, and another set of knowledge about the most effective ways to teach that subject to different kinds of learner; it therefore requires teachers to undertake a complex set of tasks every minute. Many teachers experience their first years in the profession as stressful. The proportion of teachers who either do not enter the profession after completing initial training, or who leave the profession after their first teaching post, is high.[5]

A distinction is sometimes made between inducting a teacher into a new school (explaining the school's vision, procedures etc.), and inducting a new teacher into the teaching profession (providing the support necessary to help the beginning teacher develop a professional identity, and to further develop the basic competences that were acquired in college.)

A number of countries and states have put in place comprehensive systems of support to help beginning teachers during their first years in the profession. Elements of such a programme can include:

  • mentoring: the allocation to each beginning teacher of an experienced teacher, specifically trained as a mentor; the mentor may provide emotional and professional support and guidance; in many U.S. states, induction is limited to the provision of a mentor, but research suggests that, in itself, it is not enough.[6]
  • a peer network: for mutual support but also for peer learning.
  • input from educational experts (e.g. to help the beginning teacher relate what she learned in college with classroom reality)
  • support for the process of self-reflection that all teachers engage in (e.g. through the keeping of a journal).

Some research[7] suggests that such programmes can: increase the retention of beginning teachers in the profession; improve teaching performance; promote the teachers' personal and professional well-being.[8]

Continuous professional development[edit]

Because the world that teachers are preparing young people to enter is changing so rapidly, and because the teaching skills required are evolving likewise, no initial course of teacher education can be sufficient to prepare a teacher for a career of 30 or 40 years. Continuous Professional Development (CPD) is the process by which teachers (like other professionals) reflect upon their competencies, keep them up to date, and develop them further.

The extent to which education authorities support this process varies, as does the effectiveness of the different approaches. A growing research base suggests that to be most effective, CPD activities should:

  • be spread over time
  • be collaborative
  • use active learning
  • be delivered to groups of teachers
  • include periods of practice, coaching, and follow-up
  • promote reflective practice[9]
  • encourage experimentation, and
  • respond to teachers' needs.[10][11][12]

Quality Assurance[edit]

Quality in education[13] relates to the quality of the work undertaken by a teacher, which has significant effects upon his or her pupils or students. Further, those who pay teachers' salaries, whether through taxes or through school fees, wish to be assured that they are receiving value for money. Ways to measure the quality of work of individual teachers, of schools, or of education systems as a whole, are therefore often sought.

In most countries, teacher salary is not related to the perceived quality of his or her work. Some, however, have systems to identify the 'best-performing' teachers, and increase their remuneration accordingly. Elsewhere, assessments of teacher performance may be undertaken with a view to identifying teachers' needs for additional training or development, or, in extreme cases, to identify those teachers that should be required to leave the profession. In some countries, teachers are required to re-apply periodically for their license to teach, and in so doing, to prove that they still have the requisite skills.

Feedback on the performance of teachers is integral to many state and private education procedures, but takes many different forms. The 'no fault' approach is believed by some to be satisfactory, as weaknesses are carefully identified, assessed and then addressed through the provision of in house or school based training. These can, however, be seen as benefiting the institution and not necessarily fully meeting the CPD needs of the individual as they lack educational gravitas.

Teacher education policy[edit]

The process by which teachers are educated is the subject of political discussion in many countries, reflecting both the value attached by societies and cultures to the preparation of young people for life, and the fact that education systems consume significant financial resources.

However, the degree of political control over Teacher Education varies. Where TE is entirely in the hands of universities, the state may have no direct control whatever over what or how new teachers are taught; this can lead to anomalies, such as teachers being taught using teaching methods that would be deemed inappropriate if they used the same methods in schools, or teachers being taught by persons with little or no hands-on experience of teaching in real classrooms. In other systems, TE may be the subject of detailed prescription (e.g. the state may specify the skills that all teachers must possess, or it may specify the content of TE courses).

Policy cooperation in the European Union has led to a broad description of the kinds of attributes that teachers in EU Member States should possess: the [Common European Principle for Teacher Competences and Qualifications][1].

See also[edit]


  1. ^ see for example Cecil H. Allen, In-Service Training of Teachers in Review of Educational Research. 1940; 10: 210–215. In the UK, however, the term 'teacher training' is still in general use: see for instance the UK government's information on http://www.tda.gov.uk/
  2. ^ U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor website. Accessed on December 7, 2009.
  4. ^ Rosser and Massey (2013). Educational Leadership: The Power of Oneself. Peter Lang. 
  5. ^ Richard Ingersoll, Thomas M. Smith: Do Teacher Induction and Mentoring Matter? 2004
  6. ^ Wong H; Induction programs that keep new teachers teaching and improving; NASSP Bulletin � Vol. 88 No. 638 March 2004
  7. ^ Ashby, P., Hobson, A., Tracey, L., Malderez, A., Tomlinson, P., Roper, T., Chambers, G. and Healy, J. (2008). Beginner teachers' experiences of initial teacher preparation, induction and early professional development: a review of literature. London: DCSF
  8. ^ Huling-Austin, J. A systhesis of research on teacher induction programs and practices; paper presented to the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans LA, April 5–9, 1988
  9. ^ Theatre of the Oppressed in Teacher Training: Centre for Community Dialogue and Change, India http://www.ccdc.in/theatre-oppressed-in-education
  10. ^ see: Snow-Renner and Lauer, ‘Professional Development Analysis (synthesis of 54 studies), McREL, 2005
  11. ^ see Garet, Porter, Desmoine, Birman, Kwang, What makes professional development effective? American Education Research Journal 38(4) 915-946. 2001
  12. ^ see General Teaching Council for England, 'Teachers' Professional Learning', London, 2005.
  13. ^ Anderson, Chris. What is Quality in Education?, Bizmanualz, July 15, 2009.

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