It seriously bewilders me whenever I read articles about “good” versus “bad” teachers and schools in the context of education reform. Many discussions of the sort tend to nudge that “bad” teachers, some of whom are actually the most effective, should be ousted, despite significant investment in their own education to become teachers [and often for reasons that have nothing at all to do with performance] and that lower performing schools should be closed, or students attending lower performing schools should be relocated to “better” schools…
To be very honest, I’ve wondered if many of these “wars” aren’t part of cleverly designed rackets to simply increase attendance of charter and other alternative schools of the sort and/or in some instances to nudge educators into costly unions for protections that they should be intrinsically availed.
This brings me to the realization that my own definition of education reform significantly varies from its popular definition. Education reform in my mind is concern for improving all schools, not merely those attended by the middle and upper classes and/or non-minorities. My definition does not legitimize goading students out of certain schools and into others, unless the reasons are that those schools offer specialty courses or services that are not availed at traditional public schools, or it is a situation where certain students are unsafe in certain schools and school administrators and/or designated school board members do not sufficiently address the situation or they are involved in creating a hostile environment for students and/or parents.
My definition certainly does not justify waging war on teachers, but rather improving the effectiveness of all teachers and the moral climate of all schools and reducing attrition/turnover to create a stable academic and working environment for teachers, school administrators, and students.
All Teachers and Students are Capable of Excellence
I doubt that too many instructors have made the collegiate grade and have graduated from college with an education degree or a degree of any kind who are not qualified to be effective educators. Instructors, like students, however, need direction from school boards/districts in terms of assuring that the instructional material (assignments, etc.) and methods that they are using, not merely articulated lesson plans, are the most effective. This would further require sharing the best practices of the most effective teachers with all others, and requiring that best practices are always applied in the classroom. Just as all students can be taught, all instructors can be taught to optimally perform.
I was informed by some instructors upon query that professional development, including the manner that I’m here prescribing, would come at a cost that most perhaps who’d benefit from it could not afford, while professional development as particularly I am here prescribing should be available to all educators free of charge. Instructor enrichment initiatives could be conducted during live, in-person seminars and/or via live or pre-recorded podcasts that all instructors would be required to attend online or during assemblies at their respective schools.
Educator Performance Is Important
None of what I’ve said is to minimize the importance of teacher performance. I do believe that educators should be held accountable for what happens in their classrooms. It really upsets me when I visit classrooms, especially special education classrooms, where instructors act as a little more than childcare providers, or are not teaching students what they should be learning.
Once best practices or most effective instructional methods and materials are shared with all educators via training sessions and other tangible resources, then expectations should be raised.
When all teachers and students are empowered and required to give their very best, we’ll see fewer episodes of social unrest, and epidemic social tranquility.