Monday, February 16, 2009

Teacher: Creative vs Incompetent

I think I have probably sat in more class rooms than most people.

This is due to my years of company sponsored training and certifications, and my HS, BS Engrg, MS Engrg and MBA degrees. Along with all these different classes and classrooms, came 100+ instructors that all had different styles and techniques.

When I was younger, I used to judge the teachers effectiveness based in a large part on their style and technique. Of course, if it did not match my style they must be the problem.(ie incompetent) Well this rebelling caused me a fair amount of conflict and questionable grades. After ~40 years of different teachers and occasionally instructing co-workers myself, I have finally figured out that students need to be somewhat trusting, flexible and accepting of different instructional styles. After all, they are the instructor and they may just know something you do not. Also, their style may be ideal for other students in the class.

With this perspective in mind, I question why some of the RAS teachers are still teaching. Parents complain to administrators year after year about specific teachers that:
  • assign homework in a somewhat haphazard/inconsistent manner
  • find it difficult to maintain discipline in their classrooms
  • consistently lose the homework of their students, then blame the students or just give them 100%
  • fail to enter grades in Parent Portal for months at a time
To me the above have nothing to do with teaching style, creativity, method, etc. They are just symptoms of poor organization and a failure to perform to the base expectations of the position.

Now I understand that personnel are human and that short term performance issues need to be worked through occasionally. Like when I fell apart for ~1 month due to a panic attack/nervous breakdown/etc.(a different blog...) My Supervisor and company were great while I experienced this life changing disaster. They supported me as I got the medical and counseling help to get back on top of my game.

Now would they have allowed me to stay in my position for multiple years while I did questionable work and alienated the company's customers. NOT A CHANCE !!! So why does RAS not address this small minority of teachers that are giving the district and teachers in general a bad name? And why do the other teachers and the union want to protect them at the expense of the students and their own profession's reputation? How can can we better reward the good performers and weed out the poor performers?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The issue of providing the highest quality teachers isn't, of course, unique to RAS. Nicholas Kristof has an interesting piece acknowledging the hugely important role excellent teachers can play in addressing our educational crisis: