Don’t Underestimate the Art of Teaching  

Don’t Underestimate the Art of Teaching  

Corey WinchesterGraduate student Corey Winchester calls for greater investment in teacher prep programs. Lifting the requirements for certifications, licensures, and teacher preparation programs is a shortsighted and dangerous way to address the teacher shortage, educator Corey Winchester wrote in EdSurge.

Winchester, a history teacher at Evanston Township High School who is pursuing a doctorate in learning sciences at Northwestern’s School of Education and Social Policy, is a 2022-2023 EdSurge Voices of Change writing fellow. His first piece was Educators Are Tired. It’s Time to Dream New Possibilities Into Our Schools. 

In his latest essay, he urges administrators and policy makers to look to solid models of programs that invest in the profession, like Illinois’ Golden Apple Scholars, which successfully supports and cultivates effective and diverse educators.

Recent legislation that removes some barriers to the teaching profession has been characterized as a way to expand the workforce. Florida’s new Military Veterans Certification Pathway, for example, allows veterans to earn a temporary teaching certificate before receiving their bachelor’s degree. Another new law in Arizona lets people complete their teacher training while finishing their degree. It also makes it easier for educators with expired licenses to get back into the classroom.

But lowering the bar and de-credentialing the profession is an “ill-fitting band aid” that could lead to “educational malpractice,” Winchester wrote.

Since students of color make up more than half of Arizona and Florida’s public school population, “putting people with minimal experience and preparation in front of students who need and deserve more than the bare minimum runs the risk of perpetuating continued cycles of marginalization,” Winchester wrote.

While Winchester supports alternative pathways for educators and welcomes career changers, he also believes teaching needs to be recognized as an art, and structures should be in place.

“Becoming an artist does not happen overnight and it can take years for a teacher to perfect their craft,” he wrote. “As an educator that has made the commitment to my artistry, I firmly believe the next renaissance must include an investment in teacher preparation programs, if not for the betterment of the education system, then simply so that we do not continue to break the souls of the teachers that care about our profession."

In 2020, Winchester received his master's in learning sciences at the School of Education and Social Policy and was also named Illinois History Teacher of the Year by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. An adjunct instructor at SESP, he was honored with the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2019. He has also been recognized as an Excellent Early Career Educator by the Illinois State Board of Education.

He describes his work as "developing, creating, and sustaining more humanizing and liberatory learning environments so that individuals like me (namely Black, Brown, Indigenous and LGBTQ+ folks), who have historically experienced and are currently navigating marginalization can individually and collectively thrive."

By Julie Deardorff
Last Modified: 11/21/22