Reflections on Reflection

Profs in the B.Ed. program warn students not to tell their friends that the classes are “easy.” They contend that as time goes on, it gets harder, and you’ll have wiped out any source of support. After almost three weeks of class, I will dare to say, to every person on the internet, that this program is not hard. Which is not to say that it isn’t “challenging.”

You read an article. You discuss this article in groups. Then as a class. Then you “reflect” on how you feel about the experience. In every class, you “reflect” on how you feel about things. Reflect on how you handled that class conflict. Reflect on how the curriculum could have been more inclusive. Reflect on how your assessment methods impacted your students.

Eventually, “reflection” starts to feel like a pompous way of saying “think about what the hell you’re doing.” Better put, my old roommate, now in her third year of teaching, says that after a year of teacher’s college, your response to the suggestion to “reflect” on something will be: “Reflect this.”

This is not meant to discount the value of the classes. I’d argue that effective teaching can’t really be taught; rather, you best prepare for the career by considering possible problems, reading case-studies, and then trying your hand at the blackboard in the practicum (when you get to test-teach a class). None of this makes you a qualified teacher. It only tempers you for the fire of the classroom.

Like other professional programs, your suitability as a teacher is best judged by how you perform on the job. As with doctors, lawyers, and engineers, practice and experience determines success. Unlike these other professions however, no extended period of articling or apprenticeship is required to become a teacher. I’d like to see a salaried, supervised, one-semester (minimum) apprenticeship for all teachers before they receive their certification.

Let’s not implement it until after I’ve graduated, though.

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