Saturday, September 24, 2011

How Does One Define A "Quality Teacher"? To The Various Groups It Means Many Different Things.

Everybody wants a "quality teacher" in the classroom. It doesn't matter if you are a traditional educator or an education reformer, a "quality teacher" is an important element for successful student academic achievement. The problem lies with the definition of what is a "quality teacher"?

Most people in education believe that a "quality teacher" is a teacher that rises student academic achievement and is a dependable and reliable presence in the classroom. However, beyond these general elements there is a wide difference of opinion on the specifics of what is a "quality teacher"?

Pseudo Education Reform:
It is easy to discount this group. The Bloomberg/Klein/Walcott political rhetoric that the "best teachers" are the young and cheap teachers, many of them recruited from alternate teaching programs like the "Teaching Fellows" or "Teach For America" who seem to disappear from teaching a few years down the road (E4E leadership are a prime example). For these politicians it is simply "education on the cheap" and a temporary, replaceable teaching staff means low salaries and no vesting rights for pensions and retiree health benefits. I am sure you all remember Mayor Bloomberg's press conference where he called experienced teachers irrelevant. These pseudo education reformers are simply people who want to reduce public education expenditures by encouraging Charter schools, reducing funding to public schools, and eliminating union protections.

Education Reformers:
For many education reformers the "quality teacher" is by far the most important factor in student learning. These same education reformers ignore class sizes, social-economic issues, Administrative competence, and lack of school resources as factors in student academic achievement. Furthermore, these education reformers blame teacher unions for many of the problems in schools. For example, they claim that teachers have "tenure for life", knowing full well that teachers accused of incompetence or misconduct can be terminated at an Administrative hearing in front of an impartial Arbitrator where the school board can present their case against the teacher. To most of us this is called "due process". Furthermore, the education reformers claim that teachers get automatic tenure. Again, this is a lie. Tenure can only be granted by an Administrator after three years of satisfactory service. Tenure can be denied or a teacher's probation can be extended until the Principal is satisfied that the teacher deserves tenure. Therefore, tenure is awarded not automatic and tenured teachers can still be terminated if the school district presents sufficient evidence to prove teacher incompetence or misconduct. Many education reformers support Charter schools and vouchers and believe that technology is a way to improve student academic achievement. Some of these reformers even believe that technology can replace teachers and support online learning as a way to improve student learning. In New York City $50 million dollars are being wasted in the izone program where almost all student learning is done online with little or no teacher interaction and at best has been received mixed reviews by schools who are part of the program. In fact, in Minnesota there are more dropouts in these online learning schools than regular public schools.To the education reformers a "quality teacher" is a teacher that raises student scores on standardized tests (test prep), and are always available day and night for student needs. Moreover, a "quality teacher" is a teacher willing to take over many non-teaching duties, without added compensation and does not hide behind the union contract. That is why the education reformers love Charter schools since teachers must do additional duties besides teaching, work an extended day and year, and have little "due process" in hiring/firing decisions. Of course the education reformers ignore the high teacher turnover and burnout that comes with their definition of a "quality teacher".

Traditional Educators:
The vast majority of educators who came from the classroom understand that education can be improved by slowly and carefully incorporating new ideas and testing them in the classroom. For example technology can aid teaching by supporting a lesson rather than replacing the lesson with its own. For the traditional educator a "quality teacher" is a teacher that not only know the curriculum but can go deeper into what each lesson means to student learning. Further, the "quality teacher" has the ability to tailor his or her lesson to best help the students in maximizing their academic improvement. In other words, "let teachers teach" A "quality teacher" can enhance the curriculum by telling his or her students a story that shows how a lesson comes alive and why it is important to understand the significance of the subject taught to the student. A "quality teacher" has the ability to place the student into the lesson taught and actually experience the academic significance in the real world. An example is to teach lower grades the significance of Math by using money to buy food to eat, buy toys, and save. For many traditional educators, a "quality teacher" is a teacher that can successfully impart knowledge, cares for the students, and can handle classroom management issues to maximize student academic achievement. Additionally, manageable class sizes, adequate resources, and Administrative support are all an integral part of being a "quality teacher".

The bottom line is a "quality teacher" is a one of the many important elements of student academic achievement. However, the definition of a "quality teacher" is very different for the different groups who dominate education policy and that is the major problem in shaping a truly effective education policy.


Anonymous said...

If "society" wants to privatize public education, bust the union, and charterize the entire thing-fine.

However, they should PAY the vets to go their merry way-give them a fair retirement package and forget about this drivel.

Anonymous said...

why not get rid of salary differentials. it is riduculous to pay a teacher for more credits or degrees. how does a student benefit if a teacher has a second masters in administration? 95% of nyc students are socially promoted. stop paying for phony professional development. stop saying its in the contract.

Traveling ATR said...

Anon 2:26

I disagree with you in part. While it is true that more education does not necessarily lead to better teaching, it does allow educators to improve their skills and can help teachers to understand and use the latest teaching techniques in the classroom.

Realistically, you can make the same claim in any profession.

Bumble is, as bumble does said...

A bumbling teacher who couldn't stand teaching disorderly kids takes a few courses for building leader. Now he's a bumbling principal who gets others to tame the same kids, while disrespecting and denigrating the very same people he use to work with!
For many teachers, the extra courses do improve their teaching somewhat. But how can a few courses turn a teacher into a good principal? I haven't seen it yet.

Anonymous said...

No doubt this Bloomberg system is management heavy. You can't believe the scandals, and other problems occurring with many of these New Guard "leaders" who don't know shit from shinola.

Anonymous said...

This discussion of "quality teachers" is all well and good if THIS America was the America of say...twenty five or thirty years age.

It is NOT! Our supposed "leaders, from DC down to the school level are mere salesman,brokers, and hit men for the agreed upon mandates of the fascist "one world government" we already live in.

America has and IS being dismantled. Most of our kids are not being well served working "cooperatively" making silly posters with crayons in high school, and cutting and pasting shit from Google. Many of these students should be learning how to swing a hammer, build a house, with all of those skills entailed. They should be learning how to create great foods, clothing, and all of the skills therein. But oh, I forgot...there are already millions of illegal aliens allowed to forge the border who will be, and ARE doing those jobs here for minimum wage and no benefits. We are teaching their children NOW! Instead , most of our students are learning what, exactly? There will be no solid employment for what we are forced to teach them. Even white, middle class kids paying hundreds of thousands of dollars tuition with practical degreees are coming our realizing they are competing with Indian software engineers working for $10 an hour with no benefits, and happy to get it working in India.

Only the top 10 % or less our public school students will ever achieve enough through academics to better their lot. Most of our kids are doomed in what is to come- a shitty service sector job, if they're lucky. And this is what the corporate state wants. Focus on tech heavy classrooms without ever teaching the fundamentals is merely grooming young people to be consumers of the tech products by Apple, etc.

This ed deform movement is part of this globalization, and centralization of wealth and power.

Nothing short of Revolution will reverse what is to come, in all aspects of our lives. "Money for the few, war for the many" is a realistic credo for the era we live in...dark,dark,days if we don't fight back.

isolthai said...

A teacher has to impart quality academic knowledge so as to maximize students achievement,care for the students even outside the academic sphere, and also properly manage classromm training. A teacher who encompasses all these qualities may be called as "Quality Teacher".