The stories of two teachers, one who has just retired and the other who has just obtained the position, reflect how little the landing of new teachers in classrooms has changed in 40 years, a situation that experts and international educational organizations consider transcendental to ensure the quality of the educational system. Javier Moreno, who passed the teacher’s exam in 1981, recalls: “They gave you your destination, they told you where you had to teach and you went there wildly, by sack. In some centers that was not very problematic, in others it was”. Teresa Terrer, who took the exam in 2021 and became a trainee official at a secondary school in September, adds: “You enter as one more worker. When you arrive at the center they give you the schedule that corresponds to you, the groups that you are going to cover and you start. And once the course has started, they explain how the process works and assign you your tutor”.

The incorporation of the new civil servant teachers into the public education system today is a disaster similar to the one that existed four decades ago, a regional educational official admits in private. Something that the Ministry of Education also recognizes, in other words, in the plan it presented in January to reform the teaching profession. The document considers it necessary for the internship period for beginning teachers to stop being “a mere formal requirement as is currently the case”, and be replaced by a true “tutoring” process that allows “learning by doing”, although for the moment it is not concrete more.

Teresa Terrer is a Spanish Language and Literature intern at the Joanot Martorell Institute in Valencia, and teaches 16 classes a week. In the six months that her stay will last, her tutor will have to see how she teaches 12 classes. And she Terrer must enter to observe three sessions of her tutor. The beginner will be evaluated at the end, although the pass is usually taken for granted. Failing, indicate educational sources, which would force the affected person to redo the practices, is reserved for extreme cases of lack of suitability.

Although he is very grateful for the help and advice of his tutor, Terrer considers the accompaniment system insufficient. And she warns that the initial loneliness is even more dramatic for interim teachers, those who cover the casualties of civil servant teachers and who have normally overcome the opposition without obtaining a position, as happened to her in 2010. That year, Terrer enrolled in the bag to make substitutions, but due to the cuts that followed the financial crisis (increase in hours that a teacher had to teach, increase in students per classroom, plummeting demand for internships), they did not call it until 2017. In those He worked in the communication sector for seven years, because he had studied Image and Sound.

Before beginning to cover that loss, his only experience in a class had been in 2006, during the internship quarter of the old Pedagogical Aptitude Course, the (CAP). “It was a save yourself who can, because they do not prepare anything for you. They summon you one day to tell you your classes and show you the center and you join the next, with the course started. You see yourself there with 25 students and you say: ‘I don’t know how to control a classroom.’ It’s distressing. I spent the year asking my classmates everything, studying and preparing a lot for classes, because I had to be very safe”.

Compared to that, the trainee period is becoming much easier for her, now that she has many hours of class under her belt. The same thing happens to the majority of new civil servants: close to 80% of the places in the opposition contests are won by temporary workers due to the points that experience provides them. The current reform of the ministry, in addition to improving the practices of civil servants, aims to reduce the volume of interims (from the current 25% to a maximum of 8%) and promote practical learning in Teaching careers and in the master’s degree to be a teacher high school.

Forty years earlier, after having passed the competitive examinations and having briefly gone through a quiet village school, Javier Moreno was assigned to a huge center in Alaquàs, in the Valencia metropolitan area. “They put me in the seventh year of EGB, in group D, which was where the students would repeat over and over again until they turned 14 and could leave even if they had not graduated. And that just came out. Not only did they not give you any orientations, but they used to give you the most complicated places, the ones that nobody wanted and were empty. That hasn’t changed much.”

Javier Moreno, retired teacher, at his home in Valencia.
Javier Moreno, retired teacher, at his home in Valencia.Monica Torres

Due to his conception of education, Moreno specialized in the so-called compensatory centers, in complicated neighborhoods of the Valencian geography. He was director, adviser of teacher training centers and adult teacher. After having studied Geography and History, he applied for another competition and worked as a high school teacher in that specialty until he retired. Through his experience, Moreno became convinced of the importance of mentoring. “There should be a tutoring of new people by teachers with 10 or 15 years of experience, who accompany them in their beginnings for one or two years and see this role recognized in their teaching career, with pay or hours. That is where the improvement that is needed could come from.”

Know what’s going on in the next class

Working together in class would be beneficial for the veteran teacher, the beginner, their students, the center and the educational system, believes Javier Moreno. The novice would learn the trade in a less traumatic way. For the expert, having the young man by his side would help him have a better controlled class and “could help him to retrain and catch up on some issues.”

Also, Moreno continues, it would reduce the traditional “isolated” work dynamics of teachers: “They would have to socialize a methodology. Just as an engineer cannot invent the color codes of the plans, because they have to be interpreted by other people, in shared teaching you cannot enter the classroom with a piece of paper and three notes. It must be done in a more professional and communicable way to others. It would be good for the one in the classroom and for other teachers to be able to know what is happening in the next class, because maybe there are things that might interest them”.

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