On good teachers

On “What Makes a Good Teacher?“:

For years, the secrets to great teaching have seemed more like alchemy than science, a mix of motivational mumbo jumbo and misty-eyed tales of inspiration and dedication. But for more than a decade, one organization has been tracking hundreds of thousands of kids, and looking at why some teachers can move them three grade levels ahead in a year and others can’t. Now, as the Obama administration offers states more than $4 billion to identify and cultivate effective teachers, Teach for America is ready to release its data.

Really fascinating– I’m looking forward to reading TfA’s report. I wish the journalist had maintained her focus on reporting behaviors and attitudes (monitoring understanding, setting & striving for goals, grit) rather than traits and past history (GPA, leadership), but there’s still a great list in there. I hope that policy will also attend closely to the process variables.

Note that the research comes from an aggregate sample of master’s programs. There could well be distinguishing factors in some master’s programs that are beneficial, which is why I’d want more process data. True that they focused on the classroom (due to the emphasis on what teachers do), but they did at least mention the importance of having teachers reach out to students’ families. It’d be interesting to find out what kind of impact parent-education programs could have.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to read an article about how teachers learn and improve, instead of what makes them “great”?