Momma Hunt
So my hubby and I love us some Oprah. We are taping the final season so we can watch it after the kids go to bed. Sadly we were really upset about the shows content on Monday about education. For those of you who may not have saw it was based on the documentary coming out "Waiting for Superman" and a lot of the episode was our bad teacher get tenured and then they teach forever and it is hurting our kids. As a teacher I would be the first to admit that bad teachers need to go. No Question, No Comment, No Buts...Bad teachers no matter how long they have been teaching need to be fired. That being me the debate is about how do we judge what is bad. As a parent I know that parents feel very strongly about having a good teacher for their child (and they should). Yet, I am concerned over who and what decides a good teacher. I think that teachers should be evaluated by a department head and other veteran good teachers and evaluated on how they teach, their relationship with their students, and their ability to prepare students for tests as well as content material. What I never want to be judged on is if my students are able to take and pass a test. I teach lower level kids who for a variety of reasons they can not no matter what I do, be able to pass certain standardized tests. I would hate to see good teachers, who love their job and are good at it, be fired for students not meeting standards.

So what are your thoughts? How should a teacher be "graded"? Who should grade them? What is considered failing?
3 Responses
  1. Jim M. Says:

    Shockingly, I've been thinking about this, and have come up with the following criteria:

    Does the teacher pursue excellence? This isn't a vague platitude, but does the teacher actively try to improve their teaching and ability for students to learn? This has been identified as a common thread among effective teahers.

    Do the students show advancements in the following areas:

    o Subject mastery. Duh. The student should have learned something.

    o Motivation. Has the teacher inspired their students to intrinsic motivation to learn?

    o Time management and other academic "life" skills. Students will need to be able to take on and accomplish more and more as they progress through their academic career.

    Now, none of these things are measured by standardized tests, except maybe the first. And most current tests don't offer good subject tests in all areas. Also, each of these items should not be measured as an absolute, but relative to the student's status at the beginning of the year. Motivation and subjective ability to handle stress and time management have reliable measures in questionnaire form, and have been used in cognitive psychology for a long time.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    I love the idea of tracking student's individual growth-That is what every teacher strives for. I do think that it is going to take a large charge in people's thinking to move towards this ideal. Perhaps this new Oprah inspired push for education will inspire some new thinking

  3. Beth Says:

    I, too, work in education. I'm a middle school counselor, and the teachers I work with are dedicated, committed, and crazed from exhaustion. I totally agree that there needs to be a better evaluation process for teachers, that takes into account aspects of educating kids that cannot be measured by a standardized test. Does the teacher connect with and inspire kids? Do kids feel accepted and welcomed in that classroom? Is each student improving as a result of being in that teacher's class? As a certified school counselor, I see the effect it has on a student when they have a teacher who really connects with them, builds a relationship with them, welcomes them into the room with a smile each day and notices when they're gone. That's more meaningful than any test score.

    And, let's talk about the fact that the best teacher in the world can't do a great job, when he or she has 36 kids in a classroom from all walks of life and ability levels, and that teacher is expected to help each student excel on a standardized state test, all while the invaluable elective classes that are the only thing that "hooks" some of these kids into coming to school at all, let alone being successful, and afterschool tutoring and counseling staff and other supports have been cut and cut and cut until they're basically non-existent.

    There are some problems that can largely be solved by "throwing money at it." If we funded education as if it actually was the most important thing we could fund, class sizes would be smaller and supports would be in place that simply can't be funded when education is such a low budgetary priority, and when politicians can conveniently put the blame on "bad teachers."

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