Teacher quality: There’s something wrong if maestros are required?

An alternative, recently arrived in the political arena, is not more teachers but better ones, the “teacher quality” solution. If we set aside the condescension of the phrase, the fact that it has all been heard before … there is an important underlying truth: highly effective teachers can move students along at two or three times the typical rate. But there is another truth, usually ignored by those pushing the “quality” barrow: highly effective teaching is hard to do, hard to learn, and hard to find. It is exceptional. The proposition that we can make classroom maestros the rule rather than the exception by tinkering with pay structures, teacher education, bonus schemes and the like is implausible. It is also misdirected. Surely there is something fundamentally wrong with a unit that functions well only in the hands of a maestro? And therefore something wrong with reforms that leave unchanged the “organisational facts of life” to which teachers adapt?

Dean Ashenden via http://inside.org.au/frank-gagliados-schooling-a-one-hundred-year-view

2 Responses to “Teacher quality: There’s something wrong if maestros are required?”

  1. I wonder if anyone (or any school district) has ever considered creating their own contract agreements with teachers à la professional sports. You hire someone for a few years under the typical salary/benefits structure and when you develop them into being a fantastic teacher you re-work their contract with them. Might go a long way in figuring out what teachers value and what motivates them.

    Or it could crash and burn, I suppose, but someone ought to try it just in case, ya know?

  2. “Surely there is something fundamentally wrong with a unit that functions well only in the hands of a maestro?”

    This quote seems to imply that the the “unit” is what makes the teaching special not the teacher. I think the fact of the matter is that some teachers really are a lot better than others. And yes, there is part of teaching that is more of an art than a science. What has not been said is that much of the battle with low performing students is about building a trusting and enabling working relationship, not about getting the “unit” right!

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