Teacher Effectiveness - As Defined By A Bunch of People Who Have Never Taught
I perused an article today about Obama’s plan to stress more competition for teacher grants aimed at improving teacher effectiveness and quality. (Phew – that’s a mouthful!) (Imagine saying all that if you WEREN’T an educator already immersed in that dialogue and those ideas.) (Wait. What? A bunch of people who AREN’T teachers did just that? You’re shitting me…)
This article gives a nice summary of some of Obama’s plans for the upcoming fiscal year as they relate to education and issues of teacher quality. Let’s see…here are some highlights (’cuz you know we teachers love us a bullet pointed list):
* $950 million is going to be invested into a Teacher and Leader Innovation Fund that will support competitive grants for finding ways to promote and compensate educators and provide them with an incentive to teach in more challenging school settings. (Hmmmm…I wonder if a teacher is in charge of this fund…or even present for it’s meetings…or maybe sits on some sort of governing board. My guess is no. So, I’m wondering how this will play out exactly.)
* $405 million to support various pathways into teaching – including the Teacher Quality Partnerships grant program (which I need to read more about…hey, I don’t know it ALL), the Transition to Teaching alternative certification program and Teach for America (about which I have an opinion or two…). Granted, these alternative cert programs would need to compete with one another for funding which would hopefully weed out some of their bulllshit, but whatever. I’m kind of with the president of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education when I say that these options severely downplay the importance of colleges for teacher education. And in my opinion, this only furthers the idea that you don’t need to be super smart, just have good intentions, a love of children and a few hours of classroom observation time. An idea which is offensive and wrong. (But maybe that’s just my thousands of dollars in school loans and impending PhD talking…)
Here’s my favorite part of the article. Mr. Hirsch of the New Teacher Center wonders,
“How do we take these ideas and move them from federal government to state government, to districts and schools, to teachers and into practice? If we look at it as a game of ‘telephone,’ there are a lot of places where the messages can get miscommunicated.”
Gee, I wonder if a few teachers were up there at the “top”, if maybe we wouldn’t see things a little differently? Or maybe, if we admitted that a top down structure (with the government at the top and TEACHERS AT THE BOTTOM) just isn’t working….Teachers on top? Crazy idea…and kind of pornographic sounding, but you get my point.
But the JUICIEST PART of this article lies in the comments. Oh the comments! My hat is off to the brave, articulate and teacher-centered souls who wrote in with their thoughts. To sum it up, they kind of threw a big middle finger at this whole plan by wondering why teachers alone, and their effectiveness, are continuously named as the single biggest problem with America’s public schools.
These individuals point out factors such as poverty, emotional issues, drug abuse, and less-than-fabulous parenting. You know, little stuff like that.
And if I may throw in my two cents…I think if we are going to start measuring and judging teacher effectiveness in new ways that are tied into our potential compensation, then methinks it is also time to LET TEACHERS ACTUALLY TEACH INSTEAD OF NUMBING THEIR BRAINS AND SENSE OF POSSIBILITY WITH SCRIPTED, “TEACHER PROOF”, “SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN” CURRICULUM.
(Was I yelling?)
Basically, if you want to see how good I am, at least trust me to do my job and allow me the freedom to meet the needs of all my students in the ways that I know are best for them. Stop telling me what to do, how to do it, and when I should be doing it and then blaming me when it doesn’t always work every single time. Because a good teacher in one environment can’t be replicated and reproduced across a million contexts like a robot. The same goes for good teaching.
Mimi out. throws microphone to the floor and walks away in fabulous high heels