Monday, August 2, 2010
A Good Teacher
A good teacher is formed over time in the memories of students. This is a conclusion that might be drawn from a collection of posts on the subject on a national Education Week blog: Walt Gardner's Reality Check. Last week, Walt, a 27-year education veteran from the Los Angeles Unified School District, entertained this question on the blog. He based the discussion on a recent event in Washington, DC. In July of this year, 241 teachers were fired for poor evaluations or lack of proper credentials. Another 737 teachers were put on notice that if they don't improve their teaching, they too could wind up on the street.
What is this evaluation based upon, you may ask. Well, in grades four through eight, 50 % is based on student growth on standardized tests. In other words, are they doing better on their test scores each year. If not, this teacher may not be a good teacher, according to this system.
Other variables considered on these evaluations were classroom performance, though the Chancellor from D.C. admitted, allegedly, that she did not know the numbers when it came to this distinction. And what is classroom performance? It might include classroom management skills or teacher popularity. The answer to that is not clear.
Mr. Gardner rues the idea that our classrooms have become "test preparation factories." So do I. Is it the teacher's fault if a child is failing? There are so many factors involved. And besides, what will the child remember from those standardized tests in 20, 30, even 50 years?
The numerous Cherry Road School alumni I've spoken with over the past two years agree that they hold Miss Parsons in their hearts and minds because she commanded respect. It also seems to have been clear to all of her students that she cared about them and about their education. Years later what people remember is the kind, yet firm, woman who they still strive to please, even though she's long gone.
Mr. Gardner put it this way: "...I've long believed hindsight is the fairest way of evaluating teachers....the influence of teachers doesn't show up until years after students graduate. With the passage of time and the insights of maturity, students are in a far better position to evaluate their teachers."
What do you think? Please feel free to post your opinions by clicking on the "Comment" button.