Apr 10, 2012

ARTICLE: Training Teachers

How the U.S. can find and train more great teachers

"But evaluations alone are of little use without providing the support for a teacher to improve. Thus, many of these new evaluation systems are being connected with professional learning to help teachers continuously improve, as is done in many other industries. Weaknesses identified through these new evaluations are addressed with ongoing, collaborative support, as teachers work in teams to improve their instruction."

All right... keep talking...

"Many school districts have also begun to reward teachers for effective teaching, paying them more if they are able to substantially improve student performance... The concept of performance-based pay is not new, only new to teaching."

Nope, you lost me. As I've said before, this reasoning is insulting. Incentive pay isn't going to get the teacher that works from 7a to 6p every day to stay longer. Incentive pay isn't going to get the teacher working with a class full of attention issues and homelessness to teach harder. Incentive pay isn't going to get the teacher to follow the kid home and sit beside him while he works on homework. Incentive pay won't even work for the lazy teacher--she will argue that she was already worth it. This works in business because it's a different animal. We don't teach because of money.

"Let's better prepare our teachers before they enter the classroom by raising the quality of programs that train teachers to teach."

Okay, we've reached common ground again...

"Here are three ways... We must first enhance accountability in teacher preparation programs by tracking the success and effectiveness of candidates once they begin teaching... Second, we must align the curricula of teacher prep programs with the most current, innovative, and proven policies, so that teachers are prepared to teach effectively from the moment they first step into the classroom... Third, it's time to fully open the door to alternative teacher training programs, like Teach for America, that are able to recruit, train, and inspire effective teachers in a short period of time."

That first one won't work. How do you measure the effectiveness of teachers? You judge the growth of each child from the first day to the last day. Unless you would rather just look at a standardized test from one moment in time. It's quick, easy, and lazy. 

Who will decide the current, innovative, and proven policies? The same folks who flip-flop between whole language and phonics-based instruction? The same folks influenced by lobbyists and publishing companies?

That last idea is horrible. This country should raise the prestige of teaching by improving its standards at the college level. Earning an education degree should require competition, rigor, and research-based practices--not an endless stream of theories. There should be no short-cuts. Create prestige and you'll never want for potential teachers.

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