Good Teaching Series Part One: Overview | 5-21-12
3:54 minutes (3.57 MB) Download
For the past year, the Southern Education Desk has been reporting on the challenges facing education in the south. One core question that has surfaced over and over again is: What is good teaching? What are the elements and how is it accomplished? The answer is….well it’s complicated. This week, Southern Education Desk journalists from 5 states begin an ongoing series of reports that will seek to provide some answers. We start with John Hughes in Monroe, Louisiana.
Hughes: Just about everyone who’s been through school remembers a favorite teacher. Or perhaps a not-so-favorite teacher. Regardless of how we remember our teachers, it is a given that trying to teach vital skills to children every day is an extremely a tough job. But what sort of person is best suited to the task? How much does a teacher’s energy and enthusiasm play in getting students to become willing partners in their own education? Can anyone teach effectively or does it require special talent and temperament?
Walz: And that brings up the question: Are great teachers born, or are they made? And what’s the best way to mold a great teacher? I’m Maura Walz in Atlanta. Every teacher remembers whether or not they felt ready the day they stood in front of their first class. Veteran kindergarten teacher Alison Kelly says it’s a big adjustment: “To be around 17 to 20 children all suddenly and to be responsible is really very — I found it to be very overwhelming. It takes some getting used to.” What’s the best way to prepare a new teacher for the challenges of the classroom? What kinds of support do new teachers need? And should teacher training programs be held accountable for how well their graduates’ students perform?
Gilbertson: “Sit down and pay attention!” It’s a phrase heard often in struggling schools. I¿m Annie Gilbertson in Jackson, Mississippi. Behavior issues can wipe out a teacher¿s energy and eat up valuable teaching time. First-year teachers frequently struggle with behavior problems in the classroom, sometimes with little to show for it. But, as new teacher Micah Everson says, the real fatalities of classroom mismanagement aren¿t the kids being disciplined or the stressed-out teacher: “The biggest sin of this all is if a kid who does care misses the opportunity to learn.” Managing any group with a balance of command and compassion is a skill. And for most teachers, it’s one acquired on the job and with an audience.
Carsen: I’m Dan Carsen in Birmingham, Alabama. Having been a teacher, I know that one of the most important elements of successful teaching is something so big it goes beyond any individual teacher: and that’s overall school community and culture. Once you hire teachers, how do you best support them? How do you reinforce successful teaching? And who does that? administrators? Other teachers? Parents? All three? And how important is data and assessment? Which brings us to our final question How do you evaluate good teaching?
Jessel: I’m Christine Jessel in Knoxville. Here in Tennessee, a new statewide evaluation system is answering that question with measurements and data, and it’s one of the most contentious changes to affect classroom teaching in years. Veteran teacher Vada Bogart says her students show her success better than any numbers could: “You’re not attaching a five to me; I’m not a five, I’m a ten, Hello! The numbers don’t mean a thing to me.” But without something that can be measured and compared, how can states accurately track student success and evaluate good teaching practices? So…back to the original question: what is good teaching? As you can see there aren’t any easy answers. So, we’ll be examining that question, not only for the rest this week but in the coming weeks and months as well.