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From The Ivory Tower to the Urban Classroom

Editor's Note: This week's post comes from Dave Weiss~ a college professor who teaches in the education department.

In the period of time that I have been an adjunct instructor in various schools of education~ I have witnessed and participated in on-going debates and discussions concerning how prospective teachers should be prepared for the urban classroom. Much of this debate has centered on the issue of theory versus practice.

In the classes I have taught~ there have been numerous occasions when students have declared to me that I was one of a few or only instructor who emphasized the everyday~ practical aspects of the reality in an urban classroom. The most numerous complaints have come from students who were in their student teaching phase and novice teachers. The most common refrain has been~ Why wasnt I fully prepared for what actually goes on in the classroom? This is a common complaint from students in all of the various universities in which I have taught.

Some colleagues with whom I have taught have come to the schools of education from former careers as classroom teachers and administrators who have spent the greater part of their working lives in schools. When we join in discussions concerning the issues of improving the lot of student/novice teachers~ the fact that students do not receive enough practical preparation always comes up. During one of these discussions~ one full time professor stated~ after I suggested there should be a course on classroom management techniques~ that it wasnt it wasnt an overarching issue! This illustrated to me~ the disconnect~ about which others have written~ between education school professors and teachers in the urban classroom.

Dave Weiss is an adjunct professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the College of Education. He spent 36 years teaching in the Chicago Public School System where his tenure included middle school through high school.

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