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Why Do You Ask?

From asking questions that require an answer To asking questions that require a conversation.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Teach For America Thinks It Has Found a Magic Formula

In this "data-driven" world of education reform, Teach For America (TFA) believes it is now able to quantify what makes great teachers (and perhaps what makes a teacher great).

The results (abbreviated from Freakanomics):

Great teachers share some key characteristics:
  • they set big goals for their students,
  • constantly seek to improve their own effectiveness,
  • actively involve students and their families,
  • stay focused,
  • plan extensively by working backwards from their desired outcome, and
  • work relentlessly.
I have only a few comments (and I really don't care what teacher training program one comes from, as long as the teacher can do the job):
  1. None of these ground-breaking discoveries contains anything that doesn't make someone in any profession effective (with the exception of specifically involving families).
  2. There seems to be al lot of subjective material in a report that says it has quantified the results.
  1. "Big goals" = very subjective
  2. "Constant improvement of effectiveness" = very subjective and personal
  3. "Stay focused" = again, subjective - focused on what? and who says that the "what" is important?
  4. "plan extensively" = personal and subjective
  5. backward design = The UBDers will be happy
  6. "Work relentlessly" = what does that even mean?
Please observe what TFA is saying here.  To be successful as a teacher you must:
  1. Know where one needs to be at some point in the future ("set big goals").
  2. Be reflective (did you accomplish your goal in the lesson or not? If not, why not" If so, can you do it again next year?)
  3. Get people involved in the process (identify the people that will make your work worth your time).
  4. Know what you need to really be doing (focus on what really matters most).
  5. Know where you're going and only do the things that will get you there (duh).
  6. Work until you accomplish the goal and get your work done (don't give up on yourself of the kids in your room).
This is reaching the news as if this is something brilliant.  Give me a break.  If you don't have these qualities in you by the time you leave college (no matter what you are preparing to do with your life) you're not going to be ready to succeed.

How can something so benign be considered so revolutionary?

Posted via email from Murry's World

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