Would you rate an engineer on their ability to design a building that won't collapse for no reason?
Even if that engineer isn't provided with the budget to procure the absolute best construction materials (like teachers who have to teach in the ghetto), he (if he is at least a journeyman of his trade) can still design a building that's up to code and will stand (even if it wont stand as long as one build with better material).
Aside from Ivy's point, which is good, the problem that strikes me is the code in question. What is the code for assessing a teacher's abilities? That question is actually almost the entire controversy, not the conclusion. If the code you hold teachers to is some kind of No Child Left Behind standardized testing, I'm not impressed.
And those teachers in the ghetto probably should have more money to work with, I must say. I mean, if I had to prioritize, I'd focus on getting everyone up to reasonable resources more than this teacher grading thing.
Go to sleep, iguana.
INTP. Type 1>6>5. sx/sp. Live and let live will just amount to might makes right
On the one hand, I think we need to keep teachers accountable. Just like anyone else.
On the other hand, what they do is among the hardest things to measure, involves a very complex set of variables, and has very long term implications before effectiveness can be understood. (Contrast this to fund managers, who get paid to loose other people's money--very directly measurable, with many being demonstrably incompetent. But fund managers continue to hold their positions, and often, investors have no options in their retirement plans other than to invest in funds managed by people loosing to the general market.)
Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future. Robot Fusion
"As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
"[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
"[P]etabytes of  data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield
Across the country, education reformers and their allies in both parties have revamped the way teachers are graded, abandoning methods under which nearly everyone was deemed satisfactory, even when students were falling behind.
Teachers are destroying the American dream.
That's right. Teachers.
Anyone with half an education can see it.
Bellison uncorked a flood of horrible profanity, which, translated, meant, "This is extremely unusual."
Plus, just to jump ahead a few steps, were this topic ever meant to fall vaguely under the heading of "rational discussion", it'd include plausible assertions on what a teacher's role can and could be. There'd be some attempt to develop hopes for what a teacher's role might aid the nation in. It wouldn't start by asserting teachers to be guarantors of student competence.
Is there some childhood trauma we should know about, Disco?
Bellison uncorked a flood of horrible profanity, which, translated, meant, "This is extremely unusual."
As somebody who is in the profession, I can understand wanting there to be some kind of accountability. Certainly there are both good teachers and bad teachers out there. Unfortunately, definitions of what a good teacher is vary wildly according to who you ask. Some parents might say it is someone who provides childcare for their kids and who returns them educated with minimal need for parental support or involvement in the educational process. Other parents may feel it is someone who delivers an individualized program for every child in the classroom, regardless of how varied the needs are. Some would say it is reflected entirely in grades (which are also rather subjective), others would say it is reflected in how class scores compare to those of other schools or areas of the country. Some would say it is not about regurgitating information but teaching children how to think critically. Some feel that a good teacher will accept whatever is currently considered best practice in teaching without comment or question, while others would feel the opposite it true. Some people believe that a teacher should not comment at all on how student behaviour affects performance, while simultaneously believing that it is a teacher's job to fill in the role of social worker and parent. Some feel that the amount of hours put in at school reflect dedication to the job, while others believe that spending many hours at school just means working inefficiently or that the person has not achieved work/home life balance. Some believe that results of lessons taught may not show up for some time, while others feel they should be immediately measurable. Some educators believe that children mature at different rates (and also start school at different stages as they were born in different months of the year) and that growth is developmental, while others are firm believers in learning being a result of behavioural management and stimulus. On top of this, both philosophy and curriculum varies wildly from region to region and even within the same region they are constantly changing.
Therefore, while I think accountability is a good thing, I also believe that the definition of accountability needs to be better defined and I doubt it is something that can be accurately accomplished in the course of a 20 minute observation.
Schools have changed considerably in the last few years and we are dealing with higher and higher rates of children who have not been well socialized, who have insufficient routines at home, children who have multiple guardians or caregivers (mum, grandparent, daycare when with mum, dad, dad's girlfriend, daycare when with dad etc) and who have serious emotional issues that go well beyond the realm of normal classroom management. At the same time, as we have embraced diversity, classrooms now include many students with disabilities that formerly were not in mainstream schools, and yet teacher training only stresses inclusion without giving adequate information to effectively do that. Because many children have multiple caregivers, it becomes a bigger and bigger challenge to communicate the student's needs and also becomes less likely that any one person in their life feels ultimately responsible for their success.
Violence at school is becoming a more and more serious issue and teachers regularly face threats to their safety, even in early grades and in decent schools. (Example: this year, I was hit in the face and sworn at by a troubled grade 2 student in front of the rest of the class, a grade 4 student wrote in his journal that a perfect guest at school Freddy Krueger coming in and killing all the teachers and then teaching the students about killing all day. A kindergarten student had daily tantrums that would last as long as an hour at a time and he would throw objects and hit and kick anyone around him. These are not isolated incidents. I don't live in the inner city, and we have excellent administration at our school.) At some point, teachers cannot take up all the slack.
I don't think that more money is the sole answer (although teacher salaries are extremely low for what is being asked of them). I have taught in three provinces, as well as worked in some Wisconsin schools overseeing student teachers. I have taught at a variety of grade levels and in multiple different schools (and come from a family of teachers and educational consultants.)
Overall, teaching has become a second income to make ends meet, rather than as a calling or respected profession. Many of the younger teachers in the profession have discovered that teaching was not what they had expected it to be and would like to switch careers, but have too many student loans to consider it. Many of the people in the middle of their careers cannot afford to make a switch because they are raising young children. Those in their 40s are often looking to become consultants or get into administration in a bid to get out of the classroom, and those who can consider retiring are doing so in droves. Moral has plummeted and there is a huge sense of apathy and frustration out there. Even 10 years ago, it was common to see many teachers stay at school till 6 and arrive at school at 7:30 or 8:00. Now that is no longer the norm. By 3:45, there are very few people left at the school. The bell is the signal that teachers can now start their real other life of taking their kids to their appointments, coaching hockey, going to the gym etc, starting supper, picking the kids up from daycare and so on. People arrive at school in time to teach, but they are not voluntarily spending more time there than they have to.
I think there is a lack of affirmation on a personal level, but also no way in a professional sense to be recognized, other than through becoming an administrator (a good teacher may not always make a good administrator). There is an increasing workload during the day, but also an increased workload of very time-consuming paperwork that is now being heaped on teachers, with less and less support. In our province funding has been slashed considerably for educational assistants and other practical classroom supports, 15 minutes of instructional time has been added per day with no increase in pay, and there is no funding to deal with the overcrowding in our schools. In addition, we are experiencing huge influxes of immigrant families who require basic language instruction at school, yet teachers have no training in this and we cannot afford to hire someone who does.
Perhaps the situation is different in the US, although I suspect not, as much of our PD material originates there and is delivered by American consultants. However, I think that this approach for "accountability" is insufficiently thought out to provide reliable results that would change the quality of education that is being delivered.
These ‘hold teachers accountable’ arguments remind me of a story I heard in a documentary, from someone with bi-polar disorder who used to write for SNL. He said- during a manic phase- one day he burst into a courtroom demanding a fair trial. “I had no idea what I was supposed to be tried for, all I knew is that I wanted a fair trial.” That’s what these ‘hold teachers accountable’ arguments sound like to me: “what you hold them accountable for is secondary and not especially important, the important thing is that they be held accountable for something.”
I’ve wanted to start a ‘what exactly should teachers be held accountable for’ thread myself, but having my name as op is usually dooming it to failure.
[It's worth mentioning, I think, that the rest of that guy's story was "...and then in confinement I took off all my clothes and started swinging around the cell, thinking I was a monkey."]
I'm so tired of blame going to teachers for everything under the sun. And it's funny that this outcry is always coming from those who haven't actually been in the trenches themselves.
Seriously, I'd like to stick them into one of these schools in low-income areas where the majority of the kids have behavioral problems and the parents are even more entitled than usual and see how they do. See how they'd feel being held "accountable" by some arbitrary standard that's probably impossible to meet given the quality of the student body, the resources of the schools, and the time in a day, etc.,.
I've actually been subbing for a while now for extra money, and I've come to realize that I actually feel sorry for the regular teachers that have to be there all the time. The expectations for them are so high, and yet they are constantly beleaguered by terrible students, too many students, a lack of resources, a stupid curriculum, and idiotic rules that hamper creativity in teaching.
The bottom line is that when kids fail, it's mostly because they're fucking stupid and have never been made to understand accountability or discipline. It sounds harsh but it's true, and by the time they're school age it's too late. The only viable option for reform is to send them to some sort of specialized disciplinary kind of institution. Like a military-style special education. [Note: this does not apply to those with actual cognitive issues. Just fake shit like ADHD, which is apparently what you call any dumb kid who never learned how to control his/her self in public.]
People want teachers nowadays to be a kind of governess, but without any of a traditional governesses disciplinary authority or access to resources. Seriously, when you have a little motherfucker who won't take instruction of any kind (such as "please sit in your seat," or "please don't stab other students"), the kind of gentle, soft-handed 800 levels of admonishment approach to discipline (which is expected, because "don't you dare speak a harsh word to my kid") is going to be an abject failure. And controlling the environment of learning is the first and most important aspect of successfully teaching people...so when that is impossible to do, actual teaching becomes a futile endeavor. At that point it's more about getting through each day without a big incident, and hoping beyond hope that the better students (whom you've had to neglect because the little motherfuckers take up all your time and necessarily set the low academic standards to which you must adhere, because they can't be let to fail) have been able to glean something despite the hostile environment created by bad kids and their even worse parents.