• 48°

Now perfect time to become an Ohio teacher

School's out.

Everyone is involved in summer, rest, recreation and recharging.

Well, not everyone -

administrators are looking for teachers to fill next year's vacant positions.

Many of those positions will be filled by newly graduated educators.

How well prepared will they be?

The State Board of Education has identified teacher quality as a priority for the Department of Education.

As educators focus on educating all children based on content standards, they know the importance of having a highly qualified teacher in each classroom.

New teachers, graduating from Ohio's colleges, have taken two standardized tests on teaching, one as they enter an education program and one at graduation.

Future teachers must take courses and get certified to teach early childhood through grade 3, middle grade for grades 4 through 9 or young adult to adult for grades 7 through 12.

The tests they take, the Praxis I and II, cover principles of learning and teaching at all levels and additional content areas in the middle and high school certifications.

Armed with their diploma, passing grades on their Praxis II test, and their new two year provisional license, new teachers go job hunting.

It is a nerve wracking experience made more so by the tight financial situation in education.

Ohio's requirements don't end at the school house door.

Sometime in their first two years on the job, new teachers must pass an assessment of their teaching skills.

The Praxis III requires a trained assessor to observe and evaluate in the classroom.

But new teachers are not thrown in to swim or sink.

Ohio requires every district to assign a mentor to each new teacher.

It is expected that mentors be experienced teachers who have been trained to mentor.

In the best of conditions, a new teacher has time to observe and to be observed and to get guidance on handling all those situations that can't be covered in college.

Studies have shown that highly qualified teachers make a difference in learning and in raising student test scores.

Studies have also shown that experienced teachers are more effective teachers.

Richard Ingersoll, an education researcher at the University of Pennsylvania has found that new teachers who receive the highest level of mentoring which includes attention to their special needs end their first year with the effectiveness of a four year veteran.

I attended a conference on Midwest new teacher induction programs, sponsored by the Joyce Foundation.

They have a great deal of interest in studying and promoting high quality teaching.

Looking at Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio, I was pleased to learn that Ohio is in the lead in requirements for new teacher induction programs and in the fact that the state has included funding for the program.

New teachers, who get support in that first year, are more likely to stay in teaching because they feel more confident.

Marilyn Troyer, associate superintendent in charge of the Center for the Teaching Profession at the Ohio Department of Education, reported on the state of teaching at the conference.

"We in Ohio have worked hard to develop an aligned system in teacher preparation, evaluation and mentoring of entry year teachers," she said. "We have different levels of entry year induction programs as local school districts have met the requirements in their own ways."

A new professional standards board is now developing teacher standards, setting expectations for beginning, mid-career and master teachers.

Teaching and learning require intense effort, with teacher and learner working hard together to succeed.

For both teacher and learner, learning and growing are an ongoing effort.

Jane Sonenshein is a member of the Ohio Board of Education's 10th District, which includes Lawrence County.