The teachers who fall through the cracks

We often talk about trying to save the kids who fall through the cracks, but what about the teachers? There are good teachers out there, who truly love teaching and believe that all of their students can learn, but their voices are rarely heard. With the rise of teacher quality organizations (Teach Plus, National Center for Teacher Quality, The New Teacher Project, Educators for Excellence, etc) it’s getting better, but not fast enough.

A blog was recently posted on CNN from a teacher who is in SUPPORT of merit pay, career ladders, differentiated pay, and stronger evaluations. She accurately recognizes the problems within the current education system and embraces healthy competition and the continuous improvement of teachers.

But, she doesn’t discuss the reasons why these things aren’t being implemented any faster.

Policy reformers (BOTH democrats and republicans) are hampered by politics. The unions remain incredibly strong and it feels like one step forward two steps back during the implementation of every (and any) reform. The unions protect the status quo and this teacher (and most of the great teachers out there) challenge the status quo.

Unions are definitely a major issue to this type of reform, but the capacity of principals and teachers are barriers as well.

Principals and other school administrators need strong training to understand how to use data effectively and how to evaluate teachers for 1) evaluation purposes and 2) observations for the sake of creating a teacher’s professional development plan. These are two very different reasons for a principal or teacher leader to observe a classroom and they must be trained to do the actual observation properly, and to know what to do with that information once it’s gathered.

The capacity of teachers is also severely lacking across the country. Many schools of education are graduating teachers who have no real classroom experience, don’t know how to differentiate learning for students, and don’t understand how to manage a classroom. In effect, schools of ed are essentially setting up their own graduates for failure. As reformers, how come we’re not putting more pressure on the schools of ed to better teach their teachers? To track how their teachers do in the classroom, upon graduation? How long they stay in education? Teachers major in education believing that they’ll be taught how to teach, when that’s not the case.

On another teacher capacity note, if we have merit pay and better evaluation systems. Do we have enough good and great teachers to fill the positions of teachers who will be removed from the profession? We can’t effectively implement the solution without addressing the pipeline gap.




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