Sunday, April 30, 2006

Effective teaching - what's that?

Doug Noon just posted a wonderful article, Effective Teaching, in which he writes about what makes a teacher a great teacher. Very much worth a few minutes to read. Unfortunately, what I see happening is the question of what makes a great or effective teacher is totally left out of the equation when schools decide how to improve.

The first thing districts look at will be test scores, comparing this district with that one. Then will come different approaches to instruction (whole language vs, literacy based, etc). Then will be evaluations of PROGRAMS or CURRICULA that promise to meet the needs identified by the schools to improve TEST SCORES.

Then folks come up with a little equation for how to get the job done. It is based on the idea that all you need is the perfect curriculum, taught in exactly this or that particular way - and you'll have incredible schools!!

Is there anywhere in this equation a piece about the fact that the secret to effective schools is - effective and expert teachers? Once school districts start their planning around the ideas Doug is talking about, education in the 21st century may have a chance. A little more cultivation of the motivated, expert, and committed teacher will grow a lot healthier schools.


Anonymous said...

Mark, thanks for following my idea to the critical point. I didn't emphasize it, and yours is a message that needs to be heard. Over and over.

Unfortunately the entire push these days is exactly as you describe: toward test scores, curriculum, and programs: Pseudoscientific quantifiable crap. Not only have teachers been overlooked in all of that noise, they have even come to be regarded as irrelevant, or-worse-as an impediment to the delivery of a "quality" education which is sold in teacher-proof programs that any kid, and any thinking professional would hate.

I am lucky to be currently distanced from any such efforts, but I hear about it and can only imagine how deadening it would be to my spirit. If anyone thinks of me as outspoken now...I'd be unbearable to be around if I was trapped behind a Success for All, or a Reading First, paper curtain.

Carry it on.

Ed AlosbaƱos said...

Hi! The Teachers First idea is splendid! I hope all heads of schools are intelligent enough to see this! Thanks!!!

Monica said...

I just finished reading Doug Noon's article on what makes an effective teacher and I agree that it is worthwhile to take a few minutes to read. I know that No Child Left Behind was supposed to be aimed having all children receive a quality education from quality schools by quality teachers. Instead of leaving no child left behind, it left no child untested. It does seem that all of the emphasis has been on getting test scores up by whatever means necessary. I agree that more emphasis needs to be on focusing on the habits,practices, and expertise of expert teachers and having these teachers mentor novice teachers. I don't think the answer will be found in new curricula. I do believe that if we look at what works and duplicate it as much as possible, we will be going in the right direction.