Sunday, March 18, 2012

Bad teacher?

Confessions of a Bad Teacher is an article written by William Johnson, a special education teacher in New York City. The most curious and ironic thing is that it was featured in the opening page of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette this morning, despite an editorial by Paul Greenberg, editor in which HE completely ignores the lessons he could have learned about teaching, standardized testing and misleading, short-sighted and mistaken teacher evaluations by reading Johnson's piece. Greenberg, in contrast, warms to the day when Arkansas imposes published teacher performance rankings as done in New York and a few other more oppressive states. Johnson notes,
"Until we provide equal educational resources to all students and teachers, no matter where they come from, we can't say--with any scientific accuracy--how well or poorly they're performing. Perhaps if we start the conversation there things will start making a bit more sense."
Johnson recalls a his former English teacher, Mrs. Leonard who repeatedly instructed him to "write what you know." He says it was a lesson he'd only recently come to fully understand.
"She wasn't just teaching me about writing, by the way, but about being attentive to the details of my daily existence. It wasn't Mrs. Leonard's fault that 15 year old me couldn't process this lesson completely. She was planting seeds that wouldn't bear fruit in the short term. That's an important part of what we teachers do, and it's the sort of thing that doesn't show up on high-stakes testing."
On another note, you might enjoy this earlier post about John Dewey and the engagement of the hands. The chart below shows that regardless of merit and capability, many of our best, and brightest, those students with the greatest potential are not graduating from college. As Johnson suggested, a more level playing field is called for.
Click on the chart to view it at a larger size.

Turn the tide. Make, fix and create...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've been watching the storm gather over teacher performance evaluations here in New York State. The latest detail is that the state wants to assess teacher performance based on students who aren't there, the ones who miss sometimes 30% of classes. I'm so glad I retired.

Mario