Is focus on the few poor teachers driving away even more of the good ones?

People see bad teaching and they become convinced that the real issue is planning. Eventually, they decide that it would work best to have all teachers on “the same page” (my God, what would life be like if we all approached reading that way — laboriously moving page by page in the same book as everyone else?) with a lesson plan format.

….

teachers are often asked to focus on  the minutia. They are judged on their compliance regarding the physical space of their classrooms, the rigid format of their lesson and their ability to follow clerical procedures. In the process, teachers, indeed entire schools, become focused with things that have little to do with what it means to teach and to learn.

Often the focus is on strategies that are really helpful to teachers who are struggling. However, standardizing prescriptive formulas can be a bad idea. Oxygen tanks are great when they save lives. However, if someone is breathing just fine on his or her own, it might not be necessary to force to use it in the name of being “on the same page.” Similarly, medicine can save a life. However, if it is given to someone who doesn’t need it, I would consider it malpractice.

… we are so obsessed with teacher “support” and so convinced that teachers need more training and more skills that we are missing some of the greatest areas of need among teachers who are not among the bottom ten percent: affirmation, time, autonomy and creative control.

The very rope tossed out to help some teachers has become a leash that is holding back those are already doing great things. So maybe the real solution to teacher quality isn’t additional ropes. Maybe the solution is to cut the rope and see what happens. Otherwise, it might just become the noose that strangles the best of teachers.

John Spencer via http://coopcatalyst.wordpress.com/2012/08/18/teachers-need-less-support

Two quotes on ‘value-added’ measures of teacher quality

Here are two quotes from Diane Ravitch’s blog regarding ‘value-added’ measures of teacher quality. The second one would make me laugh if it weren’t also so sadly true…

The crux of the matter isn’t whether to use multiple measures but whether to include erroneous measures and give them undue emphasis that is harmful to teachers and – by connection – students.

via http://dianeravitch.net/2012/08/08/the-gates-foundation-defends-its-agenda

AND

Gates’ – and other reformers’ – dismissal of value-added’s problems with the “it’s just one of multiple measures” line is akin to saying, “Look, the entire ice cream cone isn’t made of cow patties; the manure is just one scoop along with three scoops of real ice cream.” Either way, you’re asking people to eat crap.

via http://dianeravitch.net/2012/08/08/the-gates-foundation-defends-its-agenda/#comment-20028

UPDATE: Just found out that Bill Ferriter made a slide of this quote. Check it out!

See also my Delicious tag VAM.

I think I’m going to be on NPR’s All Things Considered today

I think I’m going to be on NPR’s All Things Considered today as part of its All Tech Considered segment. I was interviewed last week about the New York City Schools’ new social media policy for employees. Regular readers know that I’ve written about this in the past. If I am featured on the show, I’ll add the link here afterward. If you hear me, let me know what you think!

UPDATE: Here is the NPR All  Things Considered story and the New York Times SchoolBook story.