Teacher Externs

More than one hundred teachers are in the workplace this week. The point is to better understand how what they teach in the classroom is used in the 'real world.' Houston Public Radio's Capella Tucker caught up with some teachers who were at the Houston Department of health and human services.

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This year more than one-hundred teachers are learning how classroom facts and figures are used in the everyday workplace setting. Several teachers are watching how the Health Department is training its employees to respond to health needs of the community following a disaster.

"Welcome to the training with the assessment team, this is the first group, the leaders."

At the back of the room is Kingwood High School Advancement Placement Chemistry teacher Gary Teneyck. He says the week long program for teachers will help him help students identify careers.

"I also saw some insights you know as far as applications, some of the things I saw in labs to my classes. I can see what these people are needing. They need future employees who can speak well and write well."

One of the criticisms of schools is that too much of the focus is teaching to tests. Reagan High School physics teacher Trey Dodd says this week's experience reminds him of the importance of going beyond teaching to a test.

"We just got out of a meeting where they were talking about they really wanted creative thinking and initiative and that's things I think we fall down on a little bit. Like you mentioned, teaching to the test. I think we try to make the child think in terms of a, b, c, and d and the real world doesn't occur that way. You have to think pardon the pun, the cliche, outside the box. You have to be a little more creative than that. That's something I try harder to implement in my classes."

The teacher externship is set up through the Houston A plus Challenge. Executive Director Michele Pola says it started in 2003 with five teachers. She says for many teachers, the only workplace they see is the classroom. Pola says students want to know why they need to learn what's being taught in the classroom.

"Today's populations of students are not easily sold on, because I said so. They are much more demanding on giving me the rationale and make it relevant for my life. And this is the way we saw as a solution to giving teachers those tools."

Pola says the program fits into Houston A plus Challenge goal of helping students succeed beyond high school. Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.

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