Monday, December 8, 2008

The New Yorker looks at Teaching

So who would make a good teacher?

The NFL has certainly struggled to be able to determine who will make a good quarterback.... think Ryan Leaf, Joey Harrington, Rick Meier, etc. lots of bonus money but no results.

This New Yorker article looks at teaching and how can we find the individuals that will make excellent teachers .... hey who are the excellent teachers? What is it that they do?

So where will these teachers come from in this Math teacher shortage?
Is it a shortage of teachers or a shortage of good teachers?
Is there a shortage of good administrators?

With poor administration, teachers become frustrated and look elsewhere.
Math teachers can find other employment quite easily.

How much math does an elementary teacher need to know?
How will it be learned by Elementary teachers?

Seattle has offered professional developement but often it centers on anything but math content. Teachers are content weak in math so the SPS offers more classes on teaching methods and technique rather then math.


Anonymous said...

This is ridiculous - there is a shortage of teachers because there are too many professional hurdles to jump and many new teachers don't like the working conditions.

About half of new teachers quit within 5 years -urban schools are also quite stressful for college educated graduates. Every five years I have to get reeducated and I'm finding it harder to do each time.

Moreover, our district, like others, has a new teacher indoctrination program that many new teachers resent because some are required to spend hours of being educated without pay. These 'coaches' are part of a network (friends of friends) - it has nothing to do with talent or ability.

You begin to add all these hours of extra 'education' and you begin to see why there are shortages of teachers.

Add bad textbooks, inflexible adminstrators, defiant students, and you have a very negative work environment.

Anonymous said...

what makes a good teacher --

an unerring ability to fill out stupid paperwork proving you are a good teacher to the drone bureaucrats creating the stupid paperwork or processing the stupid paperwork.

an ability to placate the 95% of honors parents who haven't a clue what it takes to compete globally in math and hard sciences, IF you make it that long in your career.

tues anon

dan dempsey said...

From my experience it seems that good teaching may not be desired. That is if good teaching is what is required to bring about significant academic achievment. Take a look at the record of tolerated student misbehavior and inane professional development. This takes a toll on good teachers and does nothing to help anyone become a good teacher.

Notice that most districts have no professional development to actually teach math content to teachers. The highest correlation to student math achievement seems to be the mathematical content knowledge of the teacher and yet the SPS spends lots of dollars on professional development programs that have nothing to do with content ... EDM and CMP2 methods and techniques.

Anonymous said...

This is an example of a double bind, the teacher is asked to teach to a minimal target that can't be met by any standard given the curriculum.

In fact, administrators all say first, teach the teachable (those who are just below average and forget those who are far below average, that supposedly can't be taught. Its quite the opposite - imagine moving a student from 0 to 50% versus 47% to 55%. One is measurable, but the other isn't.)

My argument against standardized testing would be that the tests themselves are not sensitive enough to measure change because they measure basic content or what every tenth grader must know before they graduate (ridiculous). The test is involuntary which automatically makes it suspect.

Instead, I propose that you teach the unteachable. A school will score far better on AYP, but it requires a different sort of teaching where the teacher has to behave intelligently.

Whoever is advising educators are not statisticians, they are faking it.

dan dempsey said...

Thay have been faking it for a long long time.

It is getting harder to fake.
Even with TIMSS scores slightly improved due to enormous increases in Math time due to NCLB pressure the poor curricula still do not produce very many advanced students. The thrust must be to reverse the stagnation that has results in not enough highly accomplished students in math as well as other math deficiencies. If one cannot add, subtract, multiply, and divide, what exactly can one do in a high school math curriculum. WOW!!! if you want an answer to that ask the SPS .... for the will have some differentiated instruction that will make all students successful .. just like during the last decade .....

Any real stats on the SPS math success ... of course NOT.

Anonymous said...

Differentiated instruction is a myth. Its meant to save districts money. The plan in our district is to merge English-Learners with special education students taking reading classes. We are also taking money from adult education to pay for standardized test prep classes, once again mixing funds inappropriately. Differentiated instruction allows districts to mix kids together.