Teacher Preparation - a Must Before and After the Start of the School Year

With the start of school in Belgium and Romania a lot of commotion has been created around the topics of the preparation of children parents for this important event. There has been much talk about where to purchase the best school supplies, how to psychologically prepare children for this new chapter in their lives, what the best schools / educational systems are and why, or about setting a proper classroom environment which can facilitate learning and growth.

I have heard little buzz, unfortunately, about the preparation of the teacher for the difficult mission ahead. But how should teachers prepare for the beginning of a new school year and why?

I believe every teacher should take some time for him/herself to reflect on certain aspects related to his/her mission in order to understand its nature. For me, the equation is simple. What you think your job is about = what you will do to complete your job. 

If you think your job is to follow the curriculum or last years planning, then you will find no use in thinking for yourself what is best for each of the children, if you think your job is to grow those children into successful adults, then you will find no use in finding ways to facilitate their independence and autonomy so that they can shape for themselves the adults they wish to become, if you think your purpose is to teach a class and not specific individuals, then you will not plan according to individual needs and you will disregard the rhythm or interests of each child.

Once the vision/mission or purpose has been clarified out, the teacher should reflect on what type of educator is necessary to reach that vision. Montessori (1966, 2007a, 2007b) believed that a certain spiritual preparation for teachers is mandatory for them to have the right impact on children's lives. For her spiritual preparation means reflecting on one's stereotypes, strengths and weaknesses and finding strategies to improve them, for they will impact his/her behavior towards children.

The National Academy of Education of the United States of America, a  group of education scholars, asked its Committee on Teacher Education to answer the question: what do teachers need to know and be able to do? The resulting report, Preparing Teachers for a Changing World, establishes a common core of knowledge and skills that a teacher should have. Among their findings, is the common sense principle that those who understand and apply the  knowledge base of their profession are more effective teachers. So before starting the school year, after the theme plan is settled, teachers should check and enhance their knowledge on the subjects. 

But knowing things doesn't mean you can help others gain the same knowledge. In a study on mathematics teaching, conducted in the US, Goldhaber concluded that the effects of teacher methods on student achievement are of great significance, suggesting that what licensed teachers learn in methods coursework and practice adds to their abilities in the classroom. In a study on 2,800 students, David Monk (1994) found that in mathematics, additional teaching methods courses had “more powerful effects” than additional preparation in the content area. In order to facilitate learning, teachers should understand where learning takes place, what triggers / fosters it, the types of learners they have in the classroom and the best ways to address them.   

So are these findings enough to ensure a successful school year? Of course not. Continuous training and research, reading and practice, understanding on how to partner with parents for the benefits of children, the right choice of materials for the classroom and the overall ethos of the environment, strategic planning and continuous observation are also some ingredients that will turn a teaching year into a life-changing experience.

Impossible? or I'm possible? It is up to you, dear teachers!


Darling-Hammond, L. and Bransford, J., (2005). Preparing Teachers for a 
Changing World: What Teachers Should Learn and Be Able to Do. National Academy 
of Education, Committee on Teacher Education, San Francisco : Jossey Bass Inc.

Goldhaber, D. (2006) Everybody’s doing it, but what does teacher testing tell us about teacher effectiveness?  Center on Reinventing Public Education.  

Monk, D. (1994), Subject area preparation of secondary mathematics and science 

teachers and student achievement. Economics of Education Review, 13(2), 142, pp. 


Montessori, M., (2007b) The Discovery of the Child, Amsterdam: Montessori Pierson Publishing Company

Montessori, M., (1966), The Secret of Childhood, New York: Ballantine Books 

Montessori, M., (2007a) The Absorbent Mind, Amsterdam: Montessori-Pierson Publishing Company


  1. In my first year of teaching, I met a great colleague, a 40 year - experience teacher, who shared with me a bit of her teaching guide: Never teach as if you were superior to your students, but as if you were their equal, 'cause you have as much to learn from them as they have to learn from you. Being a teacher means both to be a good specialist and to be open and willing to share your knowledge. One without the other is meaningless. Congrats on your initiative and keep on sharin' your ideas, they are precious!

    1. It is indeed a great principle! Thank you for your post!


Thank you for reading this post! Please make sure your comment enriches everyone's learning!