Should "Better" Always Be the Expectation?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by KinderCowgirl, Jun 11, 2014.

  1. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Jun 11, 2014

    I was reading several opinion pieces this week.

    This one about teacher tenure said something that I found interesting (this question is not really about tenure, that's why I started a different thread): http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-schneider-vergara-teachers-20140610-story.html

    The quote that struck me was this: "Research does indicate that, though teachers tend to improve by leaps and bounds in their first few years on the job, they often plateau after that."

    Is there something wrong with a plateau? I mean I know there is always some new technology to learn about (that many schools don't have the capacity to use), but most of our pd's are just programs recycling ideas from other programs-I don't think there's that much new groundbreaking strategy out there. If you are rated on a 1-4 scale and you get 3's-which means effective every year, is there something wrong with that? You met the criteria. Should everyone be expected to go above and beyond the expectations?

    Same thing with student test scores. Ours are measured by percentiles. Every class I have ever taught has had students who were below average, average and above average. We are expected to make those percentile ranks grow every year-we are expected to make below average kids average and average above average. I think sometimes kids are doing what they are academically capable of-some kids will just be average-that's their plateau.

    I'm not saying we shouldn't strive to be better, I think a lot of teachers do that, but should we be criticized for not continuing to improve and improve if we are doing enough.
     
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  3. greendream

    greendream Cohort

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    Jun 11, 2014

    I just want to respond to this piece of your post. And by "respond," I mean "emphatically agree."

    Almost every single PD I attend, they give the same "groundbreaking" strategies John Dewey came up with in 1897. Seriously.
     
  4. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Jun 11, 2014

    Yes, we should be criticized for not continuing to improve. If any of us can look at the state of the education and economy and say we are doing enough then we are simply deluding ourselves. The world is hard and our kids need every bit of help they can get in making their way through it.
     
  5. Myrisophilist

    Myrisophilist Habitué

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    Jun 11, 2014

    Imagine if a school district acknowledged reality and said, "Our teachers are good enough. Just don't get any worse and we'll be happy." That's not how our society is programmed to function. "Better" will always be the goal, but it's not always reality.

    Personally I feel that we should continue to learn for our benefit and the benefit of our students. It will enrich our lives, and hopefully theirs, even if it doesn't result in "better" test scores. Don't settle, but don't get frustrated because you aren't meeting the artificial goal mandated by society.
     
  6. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Jun 11, 2014

    I do all I can to improve as a teacher, but I'm realistic enough to know the law of diminishing returns plays a role.
     
  7. Tasha

    Tasha Phenom

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    Jun 11, 2014

    I think learning new practices and adapting, as needed, should be part of the job. However, a teacher who is using current best practices in 1980 and 2014 look very different, but may have been rated equally effective.

    I have the same thoughts about some of my students. I notice this particularly with students who are just below average. They kind of keep up with many lessons, but need extra monitoring and reteaching - all year long and with almost every subject. I often think their IQ is just below average, and there is nothing wrong with that! I can teach, reteach, preteach, and everything else, but the next lesson starts the cycle again.
     
  8. Em_Catz

    Em_Catz Devotee

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    Jun 11, 2014

    :yeahthat:

    I also feel like I am so bogged down with more and more administrative responsibilities/paperwork that sometimes improving my instruction takes a backseat. Also i feel i wAste a lot of time in math b/c we have never received formal training in our common core math curriculum and the math specialist won't answer questions or provide guidance, unless we do something wrong in which case we are reprimanded and told we should've come to him if we were unclear. :mad:

    So my team and i spend a lot of time just trying to figure out WHAT to teach and what assessments are required.

    We also spend way too much time doing bulletin boards (p requires we write meaningful, constructive comments on each paper, post a rubric, common core standard, objective and a description of the assignment, then it goes into the electronic grading book and hard copy grading book.

    It honestly takes me like 30 - 40 minutes to prep bulletin board papers.(which must be changed monthly and of course you must have math, reading, science and social studies posted).

    Not to mention mandatory weekly progress reports, monthly grade level newsletter, professional developments (which are really just the admin blabbing/griping about test scores), mandatory committees and after school programs.

    In addition, i'm doing accommodations, 2 grades a week per subject, writing plans for all subjects plus 3 plans for small reading group, keeping myself organized, and so forth.

    All that while balancing my home life (husband, family, friend), keeping my house clean, grad school, trying to buy a house, finish and e-publish a novel, keep myself healthy (i gained about 70lbs since I started teaching and have lost about 60 of them).

    So yes, i may have plateaued or am in the process of plateauing and while i strive to get better in the future, i refuse to beat myself up or let anyone else. I am only human.
     
  9. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Jun 11, 2014

    First off, thanks for sharing this article, Kinder!

    Secondly, if I'm being totally honest with myself--I don't think I got better each year. Yes, I learned more and was able to tweak lessons every school year (mainly because I knew what worked/didn't work), but I don't think I was a better teacher last year than I was my second year.

    Last year, I had a class set of iPads, a Smart Board, and pretty much every other amenity. I was fortunate. However, my first couple of years teaching, I only had an overhead projector? Did all the bells and whistles make me a better teacher? No way!

    I sleep well each night knowing that I gave my students, teachers, and staff 150% of myself.
     
  10. ScienceEd

    ScienceEd Companion

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    Jun 11, 2014

    I like the conclusion "Instead of imagining a world in which teachers are easier to fire, we should work to imagine one in which firing is rarely necessary. Because you don't put an effective teacher in every classroom by holding a sword over their heads. You do it by putting tools in their hands."
     
  11. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Jun 11, 2014

    I think it makes sense that a teacher would show rapid growth in the first few years and then that growth would slow. A teacher starts pretty much from ground zero. We all fumbled through our first year. You can only go up from there. I feel like by year 3 i was more comfortable and actually felt like a real teacher and if I had to bet, I would say my growth slowed down from that point. Every year I set a personal goal for myself (this year it was to learn and implement writer's workshop) and that is the one area I focus in. However, those small areas of growth probably look just like that to outsiders: small... I think it is unrealistic to expect teachers would continue the same momentum of growth as they experience in their first years. When they first start they are growing in every aspect because it's all new. I think this research is looking at growth through a very narrow lens, though I would agree that quality PD with sufficient time and resources to implement new strategies and ideas is key for continued growth.
     
  12. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    Jun 12, 2014

    I think this is a good way to look at it. Most teachers can sleep well at night--both because they are work hard, and they have good intentions at heart.

    But to me, the problem with the system is the barrier that is in place, that completely blocks the best of the best from the classroom.

    I DON'T mean to say that new teachers are the best of the best. But there are some, and they are coming in to the field every year. There is nothing that stops great (young) lawyers from the courtroom. There is nothing that stops great (young) doctors from the operating room. There is something that stops great (young) teachers from the classroom.
     

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