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Good Teacher, Bad Teacher

In my previous iteration, I taught sixth grade in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan. Of the 15 teachers on my floor, a dozen of...


In my previous iteration, I taught sixth grade in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan.Of the 15 teachers on my floor, a dozen of us had never set foot in a classroom before. It goes without saying that chaos ruled the day.For those of us who have tried to capture and sustain the attention of 30 minds, two things quickly become evident: First, it is one of the most difficult things imaginable, and second, you get a whole lot better the longer you do it.But teaching, unlike professional careers in law or medicine, is peculiarly endowed with the idea that anyone-even someone with very little, or no training-can do it and do it well.While teaching will forever impact the course of what I go on to do, it is still not clear, and maybe it never will be, whether the experience was of more benefit to me or to my students.We now know that of all the things that go into making a good school, teaching is the greatest predictor of student achievement.Which is why the recent Los Angeles Times investigation revealing that the Los Angeles Unified School District often grants tenure to new teachers after only cursory reviews-and more often after no evaluation whatsoever-is all the more distressing.As the year draws to a close and we begin to formulate our priorities in terms of what to tackle, I highly recommend re-reading Steven Brill's fantastic piece of journalism about New York City's ongoing attempt to rid its classrooms of ineffective, under-performing teachers.This health care debate is all the rage but surely there must be enough reform to go around.Source via
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