Friday, December 12, 2008

How can you hire "the right" teacher?

I was reading Larry Ferlazzo's blog and happened upon his reference to an article from the New Yorker about how to find the best teacher from a group of "recruits." It is hard to find the answer to this question before prospective teachers have been in the classroom.

Tenure, I believe, creates average or below average teachers.

Teachers, in their first years, can either do really well, or sometimes, really poorly. Some teachers take longer to get "grounded" in what works for them. So the first 2 or 4 years, whatever is required for tenure in a district, isn't always a "true value" of a teacher's worth. Also, the number of years a teacher has taught does not necessarily make a good or bad teacher. A teacher who has taught for 20 or more years who is still teaching exactly the same way s/he started out is not always a good teacher.

Teacher's unions and tenure help make teachers feel too complacent in their position. If a teacher is a good teacher, s/he doesn't need tenure.

I have been told that the original reason tenure was developed was to allow for college professors to test the waters in what was happening/what they were teaching without fear of reprisal from the authorities/the "powers that be" in the college hierarchy.

Even in the elementary and secondary schools there can also be power struggles. You can have a poor administrator/principal who is resentful/afraid of a teacher who is exceptional and well-liked by the students/parents/school board.

Nevertheless, I still believe, as I have often said, teachers really should be paid according to what they are worth, yet is hard to determine "what they are worth."

We need to concentrate on finding the way to determine what teachers are worth. The answer is not based solely upon the test scores of their students. Teachers teach and students learn much more than any test scores will ever show.

Only then we will improve our schools and the education of our youth.

That's where the money needs to be spent. On the teachers - the good teachers.

Good teachers succeed no matter what the challenges are, but they shouldn't have the additional challenge of not enough money for basic educational supplies.

(Editorial comment: Sorry I couldn't resist...When banks, Wall Street firms, and car manufacturers get bailed out, but schools receive little or no financial help our priorities are out of whack!)

What do you think?

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