Teacher education is a set of policies to provide future teachers with required knowledge and skill to teach effectively and appropriately. Although the term ‘teacher training’ has been used quite commonly until recently, nowadays training is associated with preparing staff to do routine everyday work, while teacher’s occupation is seen as more sophisticated and thus more professionally demanding. Therefore, the term ‘teacher education’ has gained popularity.
Teacher education is a lengthy and continuous process (some say as long as the lifetime itself), which can be broken into three stages.
The first stage is initial teacher education. In most cases it is provided in higher educational establishments only and might take two different forms: consecutive, when future teachers study the subject area first and then get additional qualification in the ways of teaching it; and simultaneous, when students learn certain subjects and the ways to teach them at the same time. There are alternative forms as well. These two are, however, the most popular.
The second stage is called induction and includes teaching in a real classroom environment while receiving help and support during the first years of one’s teaching career. As teaching is a rather complicated task and a hard occupation to choose, many potential teachers give up in the first few years or right after the initial stage. That’s why at the very beginning they receive assistance. It may come in the form of expert help, peer consults or mentoring. It is believed that the above measures improve quality of teaching in case of young specialists and also help retain more of them in the field.
The third and the last stage of teacher education is continuous professional development. As a few years of initial training cannot possibly be enough to learn all peculiarities of the job, a teacher continues learning and self-development over his entire period of work.
These three education stages aim to deliver four components of teacher training, namely providing general educational background, extending knowledge of the corresponding subjects, understanding children they are about to teach and development of practical skills (Perraton, 2010).
As any other area, teacher education has certain issues, faced particularly by underdeveloped countries. They include low access to education, a smaller number of teachers for a larger number of students, and quality of training as well.
Quality assurance of teachers, however, is a great part of their education. As a rule, it is provided by their institutions that identify and analyze weaknesses and arrange additional training. Sadly, this part is often overlooked by school administrations.
Teacher education is a very important branch of education that has to be treated with due care and diligence. Although some advances have been made, still not enough research has been conducted to identify the outcomes of different approaches in teacher’s education.