Teacher's Ramblings

A potpourri of education, politics, family matters, and current events.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

What Makes A Good Teacher?

I am shamelessly hooking up to EdWonk's post on defining a teacher, (since this has been written over a period of days, I want it known that this before was informed I was added to their blogroll, of which I am so grateful!). Since I came across this Friday I haven't been able to quite stop thinking about it, pondering it if you will. I think this may be due to an ongoing conversation with some friends from school.

Last Friday our 'clique' from school went out and we were discussing good and bad teachers, for the umpteenth time. I teach in a ps-8 parochial school, one class of each grade. Out of 12 teachers, 8 have their masters. Considering parochial school salaries, that's pretty good by any standard for elementary schools. Unfortunately education doesn't necessarily make for great or even adequate teachers. We are looking at how to make a more cohesive curriculum across the grades. We have been finding there is a broad mix of teacher interest areas, resulting in some grades having an overemphasis on certain subjects, with a falloff in others.

I think it might be beneficial to set the stage of who was at our 'meeting.' It was a roundtable discussion, more or less. The kindergarten aid, (50+; aid 6 years; BA in education with emphasis on reading). The first grade teacher, (60+; 25+ years experience; MA in reading instruction/BA Education with emphasis in reading; +35 hrs). The second grade teacher, (60+; teaching 25+; MS in science/MA Education/BA education; principal in public schools 3 years). The third grade teacher, (26; 4 years teaching; BA education; MA education/Multiple Intelligences). Myself, middle school social studies, (50; BA history, sociology, political science; completing MS Education/Differentiated Instruction; teaching 6 years).

As all teachers and thinking adults will surmise, those skewered were not there. However, in defense of clique, we are those that have consistently put up the high standardized test scores and led in teaching inservice courses. We keep up to date on new ideas and continuously are working at improving our teaching methods.

2/23: I spent the last 2 days elaborating on the problems with the other teachers. To demonstrate the level of minutia I was about to devolve into, I have left the 'clique' info intact. I've gotten rid of all the particulars, which ran the gamut from problems with student and teacher behavior to not being able to leave the programmed lessons of teacher's editions. No one involved with education needs that much detail, at least that I wish to hear from.

My question to the educators in cyberspace: How do you influence 'less able teachers' to improve? I'm serious here. We know these are the same teachers that in some cases take notes during institutes that are worthless or at the other end are clueless when 'problems' are brought up that concern them.

Anyone have some suggestions to help well meaning but ineffective collegues become more competent?

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