The chapter describes ways for new teachers gain a sophisticated understanding of the instructional environment. In fact, some research indicates that it takes five years in the classroom to become a fully competent teacher. Steps are laid out for pre-service teachers to lay the groundwork for understanding the instructional context by observing and interacting with in-service teachers, with the deliberate intent to understand not only what they do but also how they make their instructional decisions. Federal programs including Race to the Top are discussed. Various facets of school organizations and contemporary educational issues, such as standardized testing, teacher evaluation, diversity, and charter schools, are addressed, along with issues of music education reform.
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