For over 18 years Paula Humphrey has been in the teaching profession. With her wealth of experience, the most important aspect of teacher training she sees is mentorship.
“This is the last stop before students become teachers. They need proper guidance before they get into the workforce.”
As an assistant professor at Regis University’s School of Education and Counseling, her areas of teacher education are focused on children and adolescent literature, educational psychology and professionalism in education.
Beyond the specific education areas, guiding up-and-coming teachers on how to conduct lesson plans and encourage learning is not just essential. It’s critical. “Classroom management is a big skill. And it’s not put into practice until you’re in the school,” she said.
Boston K-8 in the Aurora School District is a Regis Partnership School, providing a real-world environment where students are able to gain field observation hours, learn those classroom management methods and obtain student teaching experience.
“When our students come from the workforce, they really don’t have [any] idea about what to expect in a classroom,” Humphrey explains. The student’s very first class requires them to take 10 hours of field observation.
This enables students to view and understand where they would be most happy teaching. “Is this the area they really want to go into? Maybe they want [to teach] older kids or younger kids,” and in this scenario they can find their niche.
Humphrey has been instrumental in establishing a state- of-the-art teaching lab at Regis University, which incorporates interactive Promethean whiteboards and other tools students will use once they enter the classroom as teachers after graduation.
Career Services also works with graduates for teacher job placement, utilizing partnerships such as the one with Boston K-8. Although state budgets are tightening, there is no denying that a significant number of teachers are expected to retire in the next five years.
The Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that by the year 2016 there will be career opportunities for over 479,000 new teachers. Combine that with the “Educate to Innovate” campaign from the White House, pushing for the training and employment of thousands of teachers in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), there is room for opportunities.
Humphreys is also frank about the quality of the teacher as a critical component of future employment.
“It depends on how good they are at what they do. We feel we turn out very good teachers. I want my students to be caring, thoughtful, responsible role models for the students that they’re going to be teaching in the real world.”