Archive for August, 2012

EDCI 506 So You Want to be a Teacher? Week 1

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Teachers Matter

Teachers do in fact matter.  How well teachers know their subject matter, how much time they put into planning their lessons, and how often they seek help when they know they need it matters and makes a difference in student achievement.  It mattered for me in high school when I took Advanced Placement Statistics; I passed the class, but did not fully comprehend or grasp any of the main concepts and that was because my teacher did not know the subject matter.  In college, I took the same course and passed with flying colors, all because of the teacher.  Kati Haycock wrote an article titled Good Teaching Matters: How Well-Qualified Teachers Can Close the Gap, and in that article she mentions how if schools focus more on low standards, low-level curriculum, under-educated teachers, and poor results that schools can close the achievement gap between students from all different backgrounds (Haycock, 1998).  The article goes on to mention that research supports that teachers are the most significant factor in student achievement, and I agree (Haycock, 1998).     

Current evidence supports that some teachers bring about higher student achievement than others; this evidence may anger certain teachers for a couple of different reasons, and understandably so.  Most teachers state that the reason they are teaching is because they want to “help children grow and learn” (Ornstein, Levine, and Gutek, 2011, p. 3). One reason why some teachers might be angered about evidence on differential achievement of teachers is because they may feel as if they are failing at their job, and failing their students because they are not helping them learn to the extent that they should be.  Another reason for anger could be that the teachers are frustrated with their lack of preparedness for teaching to all kinds of students.  According to the No Child Left Behind Act, teachers are expected to make sure all students are performing at a satisfactory level, which may be difficult for the teachers and students alike to accomplish because of their cultural and background differences (Ornstein, Levine, and Gutek, 2011).  Certain teachers may have more homogeneous classrooms than others, which may make their job a bit easier and their student achievement higher.  Teachers with more heterogeneous classrooms may have a tougher time with student achievement and may be angered with the evidence that they are not as successful because comparatively, they are in the more challenging situation.  A third reason for anger may be because of merit-pay programs that have been set up by the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act.  If teachers are being told that they are not performing very well and, therefore, are not going to get a raise like the other high achieving teachers, anger may arise (Ornstein, Levine, and Gutek, 2011).  If I were an underperforming teacher, I know that I would be more sad than anything because I would feel as if I were failing the students.

The reasons previously mentioned might also be why some teacher educators want to find flaws in the evidence that teachers play a huge role in producing student achievement.  Personally, I would predict that the not as successful teachers would be the ones seeking flaws in the evidence because either they do not want to admit their flaws, or because the circumstances have made it difficult for them to produce high achieving students.

In addition to certain teachers wanting to find flaws in the evidence on differential achievement of teachers, so might principals.  Principals may be reluctant to use the data and evidence as a basis for improvement because either they do not want to admit that they hired unsuccessful teachers, or maybe that they do not in fact believe their teachers to be unsuccessful.  Teachers who have all of the proper qualifications and who can demonstrate competency on subject knowledge still may have problems in the classroom. According to Margaret Spellings report of teacher quality, states still do not have qualified teachers in every classroom, and that minimum scores for certification are low (Ornstein, Levine, and Gutek, 2011, p. 23).  Principals may be reluctant to use the data because they do not want their schools’ to have a bad reputation.  Instead, what they should be doing is using the data to help improve their teachers and help provide them with resources to increase their performance.   Principals should review the data and find specific areas where teachers need help and then implement resources to help the teacher become the best that they can be.  Haycock claims, if all students have the same quality teachers the achievement gap would close by about half (Haycock, 1998).

In my future teaching career, I would hope that if I were a teacher with poor student achievement that my school would support me and help me improve my performance as a teacher.  My expectation would be that my administration and colleagues would be there for me to lean on and help guide me in the right direction.  Whether they recommended a training course or were a personal mentor, I would wish that they would be there for support and guidance.

A video posted below shows of team teachers really mentoring one another and providing feedback to help improve their strategies and overall performance in the classroom.

Links:

http://www.edtrust.org/dc/publication/good-teaching-matters-how-well-qualified-teachers-can-close-the-gap  (The link to the article Good Teaching Matters: How Well-Qualified Teachers Can Close the Gap by Kati Haycock)

http://www.edutopia.org/how-to-team-teach-high-school-video  (Here is a link to a video titled Team Teaching: How to Improve Each Other’s Game, that discusses team teaching and how it can provide much needed support and feedback from colleagues).

References

Haycock, K. (Summer 1998). Good teaching matters how well-qualified teachers can close the gap. The Education Trust 3(2). retrieved from http://www.edtrust.org/dc/publication/good-teaching-matters-how-well-qualified-teachers-can-close-the-gap

 

Ornstein, A.C., Levine, D.U., & Gutek, G.L. (2011). Foundations of education (11th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

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Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

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