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TWITA: How to Improve Teachers

This is another installment in the occasional series, “That’s What I’m Talking About”, in which I share the writing of other authors who have a knack for expressing an idea in a better way than I ever could.

In an open letter to the NY Times, Gamar Sherif has pointed out some of the major faults in the current rage of teacher-bashing.  Sherif is a classroom teacher at Chris Lehmann’s Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, and a member of the Teacher Leaders Network–both of which lend a large amount of credibility to what he has to say.

Sherif has put into words the thoughts of so many teachers who grow frustrated at the focus of policy-makers on replacing the very small number of teachers who are not capable of success.  He asks,

“Yet Secretary Duncan estimates that 10% of California’s teachers don’t belong in the classroom. Dan Goldhaber, a research professor with the Center on Reinventing Public Education, estimates that nationally, the number of unqualified teachers is closer to 7%.  So what are we doing for the other 90-93%?”

What, indeed?!?  He points out that empowering teachers through positive working environments and ensuring that students are ready for school are two powerful ways to make teachers more effective.  I couldn’t agree more.

It is difficult to ignore the role that students’ out-of-school lives play in their academic achievement.  In “Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change The Way The World Learns“, authors Clayton Christensen, Michael Horn, and Curtis Johnson make the point out that research supports the importance of “extra talk” and “language dancing” by parents with their young children.  This type of interaction by parents has a HUGE effect on student achievement later in life.  And, more importantly, it happens before a child enters school and has a chance to benefit from the expertise of a professional teacher.

Thanks, Gamar, for making this point so clear.

photo credit: moon_child via photo pin cc

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