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May 2014 | Volume 71 | Number 8
Professional Learning: Reimagined
Beginning teachers in Japan receive sustained mentoring inside the teachers' room, or shokuin shitsu.
When U.S. educators first hear that Japanese teacher preparation programs require only four weeks of formal student teaching at the end of the credential program, they're appalled: How can this be? A mere four weeks is in stark contrast to what takes place in many university-based teacher preparation programs in the United States, which typically require at least one semester of student teaching, and sometimes a full year, before teacher candidates can obtain a teaching degree.
On first look, the United States seems to provide much more rigorous teacher preparation. However, when we examine the Japanese education context, we see that Japan's teacher preparation actually takes place inside a collaborative social space in school known as the teachers' room, or shokuin shitsu. Shokuin shitsu is a shared space overseen by administrators in which all teachers have individual desks and meet daily to prepare, complete work, and collaborate on practice.
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