21 December 2007

Will 2008 Be Different?

As the calendar year wound down this week, various conversations with teachers made me wonder "Will 2008 be any different?"

  • I know a teacher who is just fantastic in the classroom. It's someone who constantly strives to improve instruction, tracks information on students, seeks out professional growth opportunities...and has hit a wall in terms of collaboration. No one wants to talk about what works for kids---only what's convenient for teachers. In order to continue to have some passion for work, this teacher is going to have to find an environment that supports that. This is not the first time someone has "outgrown" that particular school. How many more times will this happen before anyone in a leadership capacity notices that the culture there doesn't allow the best teachers to be retained?
  • Another related discussion centered around "bad" teachers. If it isn't any secret as to who isn't getting it done in the classroom, why don't we get them out of there? Why do we move them around to different grades or schools...put children who have parents who won't complain about poor teaching into seats...and so on?
  • And last of all, if schools and districts which are in the last step of school improvement sanctions are able to have school-wide structures for common formative assessments, targeted instruction toward the standards, and reporting structures which enable high-quality analysis of student progress without union interference, why can't districts which are only at the start of the school improvement process? When will teacher unions wake up and realize that what happens in a classroom is about kids---and that it in the best interests of their membership to support best practices and accountability?
Sadly enough, I don't think 2008 is going to be the year when we will see any of these questions answered other than "Not this year."


Mathew said...

In regards to bad teachers, I think a better question is why don't principals speak with them and offer suggestions on how they can improve? Most principals don't do this or keep the documentation they need to to fire a teacher.

The Science Goddess said...

I think that you're right in that this may be part of the problem. How many principals just decide to leave well enough alone---maybe the next principal will clean up the mess?

Either way, we've got kids hurting each year these teachers don't perform well in the classroom.