The National Education Association has announced a new action agenda that's set to increase the quality of teacher candidates, ensure that teachers remain at the top of their game throughout their careers, and improve student learning, writes Tim Walker at NEA Today.
Speaking at an event in Washington, D.C., President Dennis Van Roekel detailed three major strategies that will guide the NEA's efforts:
"NEA aims to ensure that every student has a qualified, caring and effective teacherâ¦ We will support a stronger profession of teaching and I will put the full weight of our national organization behind this effort."
The new plan consists of proven best practices, advised by thousands of leading teachers from around the country, and input from the independent Commission on Effective Teachers and Teaching.
"This agenda takes up some key recommendations of the commission and addresses long-neglected problems that have inhibited effective teaching," said Maddie Fennell, the chairperson of the Commission on Effective Teachers and Teaching.
"It's a crucial step toward more effective teaching and student learning and encouraging the union to meet those needs."
The plan looks to ensure all teachers are thoroughly prepared for all the varied challenges of the classroom. As part of it, every teaching candidate is to complete a one-year residency under the supervision of a Master Teacher before sitting a rigorous classroom-based performance assessment at the end of their candidacy.
"Ensuring only qualified teachers enter the classroom is only the first step. Learning how to teach, after all, does not stop when the teaching career begins. The profession must therefore focus on supporting teachers, providing them with career options and helping teachers improve throughout their careers."
Van Roekel also announced that the NEA will be looking to work with willing state and local affiliates to establish at least 100 new Peer Assistance and Peer Assistance and Review programs (PAR) over the next three years.
"Many local NEA affiliates are helping teachers and schools improve their performance – and raise student achievement – because teachers are taking responsibility for improving instruction, curriculum, and school performance. When great teachers become great leaders, students reap the benefits," Van Roekel said.
The NEA wants to also set up its own national network to train over a thousand accomplished teachers for leadership roles and train educators from across the country in educational leadership based on the innovative curriculum being developed by the NEA Foundation's Institute on Innovation in Teaching and Learning.
"Five years from now, we want people to look at NEA as a major catalyst for bringing about the kind of education all Americans want, all teachers can deliver, and all children deserve," said Van Roekel.