Martin Haberman
Training successful teachers for challenging urban schools.
By Peter Hansen

Martin Haberman Traditional teacher training may be fine for selecting and preparing teachers for most of the nearly 15,000 school districts in the United States. But in the largest 120 urban districts—where turnover is extraordinary and teachers must serve a diverse population of children in poverty—traditional methods are often inadequate

Through his innovative teacher education programs, Martin Haberman has been preparing teachers to be successful in these urban districts, where the stakes couldn't be higher.

"For children in poverty, success in school is a matter of life and death, and they need people who have a great deal of knowledge about their subject matter, but who also can relate to them," explains the professor of curriculum and instruction in the School of Education.

In his 45 years of developing teacher education programs, Haberman has found that mature adults with real-world experiences, rather than new college graduates who entered schools of education directly from high school, are better able to relate to children in poverty and function in the often-frustrating bureaucracy of large urban districts.

Haberman's alternative certification programs allow college-educated professionals from other fields to enter teaching without full traditional training, instead receiving on-the-job training from experienced mentor teachers.

"There are certain ways of looking at the world that certain mature adults have that are very uncommon among 20-year-olds," he says. "So it isn't just a put-down of traditional, university-based schools of education; it's that they've got the wrong people."

Over the years Haberman has identified certain characteristics common to successful urban teachers, and has developed the Urban Teacher Selection Interview, to try to predict applicants' ability to succeed. Over 170 U.S. urban school districts use the tests to select new teachers.

Much of what Haberman has learned in his 45 years of research appears in his 1995 book, Star Teachers of Children in Poverty, the all-time best-seller for its publisher, the international education honor society Kappa Delta Pi, where Haberman is a laureate. Haberman credits the unique opportunities available at UWM, where he has been since 1962, for his success. "I don't think I could function any other place. UWM has been very open over the years to trying different things."

Haberman's publications include eight books, 50 book chapters, 200 articles, and over 325 speeches.

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