Who should the best (strongest) teachers teach?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Pieces of Arzt, Aug 10, 2009.

  1. Pieces of Arzt

    Pieces of Arzt Rookie

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    Curious to know...what are your thoughts on this quote below?

    "The strongest teachers should teach the neediest, low-level students. The preAP and AP kids can almost teach themselves, so it's not necessary to give them the best teachers."
     
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  3. Iteach782

    Iteach782 Comrade

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    I'm kind of torn on this. I've been on both sides...taught the lower group of students and now am teaching to the higher group of students. I just feel that a good teacher should be able to teach to either groups effectively. I understand that the lower group might need the instruction of an excellent teacher, but so does the higher group. Yes, they can teach themselves and learn from practically anyone, but a strong and effective teacher can really challenge them and push the high achievers to move even further ahead. I wish all groups of students could be taught by the best teachers....I know....wishful thinking.
     
  4. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Wow...where did that quote come from?

    ALL kids need strong teachers. ALL kids deserve great teachers.
     
  5. Pieces of Arzt

    Pieces of Arzt Rookie

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    Someone I work with...a person in a position of power who is not a teacher. And several other people I work with have expressed similar sentiments.
     
  6. peggy27

    peggy27 Cohort

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    I agree all kids need strong teachers.
     
  7. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    I agree all kids need strong teachers and....

    I strongly feel the kids in the middle are the ones the most neglected - no special programs, less attention because they are "good" and not as needy. Who is looking out for them?
     
  8. Ron6103

    Ron6103 Habitué

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    ... saying that "all kinds need good teachers" is wishful thinking. Of course I agree with that statement, and it would be fantastic if we, as a nation, would pull it off. But that simply isn't the case. And so the question becomes a practical issue: where do you place your best teachers?

    Our school faced this issue over the summer because I was helping build the master schedules. We tried to find a middle ground. Our best teachers got a few sections of very low level classes AND a few sections of the top tier AP/PreAP classes. We did that first, and then the rest of the courses were assigned normally.

    Is this the best course of action? I don't know yet.
     
  9. kimrandy1

    kimrandy1 Enthusiast

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    My oldest daughter is extremely advanced. She goes to my school. At times, I have felt like they've just let her coast because she is so much ahead of her peers....she already knows everything in grade 3's curriculum, so she can just read independently for a month (that's an exaggeration, but not by much). I feel like all kids, even the most advanced, deserve to be challenged and deserve the chance to grow over the course of a year.

    BTW, I think it's almost harder to teach the most advanced kids than the lowest kids (not counting SPED, as that's a whole different ball of wax). Note: I said ALMOST!
    Kim
     
  10. Pieces of Arzt

    Pieces of Arzt Rookie

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    Honestly, if one has to choose (and practically, one does because that is the reality of the situation), I would say that the best teachers should get the most advanced students. After all, these are the students that are most likely to be the business owners, the politicians, the inventors, the movers and the shakers of tomorrow.

    However, I do think that the plan your school is enforcing is a reasonable compromise and certainly think it is a better plan than forcing all your best teachers to only teach the low-level and SPED kids.
     
  11. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    No one is fool enough to expect a young tennis player or football player to develop excellence without a great deal of really good, focused coaching. Why on earth do we expect kids to develop their intellectual gifts in settings that reward them for never needing the teacher's attention?
     
  12. Pieces of Arzt

    Pieces of Arzt Rookie

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    Great point, TeacherGroupie.
     
  13. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    This is so wrong on so many levels! Higher level students need just as much good quality instruction as do the lower students. Their needs are just different.
     
  14. schoolteacher

    schoolteacher Habitué

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    The best way to answer this question is to imagine that it pertains to your child. Then you will know the answer. You want the strongest teacher teaching your child, no matter the level your child is on.
     
  15. foxteach1

    foxteach1 Rookie

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    What a bunch of hooey to think that just because a kid is smart, he's automatically self-motivated! I have done graduate work in gifted ed and spent years teaching gifted kids, and have worked with regular classes as well. It's not wishful thinking to say that we need great teachers at every level--it's the truth. Many of my highly-gifted students had social issues, off-the-wall creativity that required adaptations, emotional needs...just because they're smart, it doesn't mean they're perfect. Believe me, I was one, and I am still very, very grateful to the excellent teachers who nurtured and pushed me to succeed.
     
  16. ahsila

    ahsila Companion

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    I have worked with gifted students and I am currently working with students on the lower end of the spectrum. I have also worked (though not as a classroom teacher) with the "average" kids.
    I am not cut out to work with gifted students. The group I worked with were so smug and self-important that I was ready to walk out the door by the end of my first quarter with them. I don't think that makes me a weak teacher.
    I love working with kids at the lower end because I tend to think outside the box and I now teach kids who learn outside the box. I don't think that makes me a strong teacher.
    It really isn't about what teachers are "best" - even the best teacher will have students that seem unreachable if the personalities conflict enough. I have said (jokingly, though I do think there's some validity to the idea) that teachers and students should undergo personality tests and kids get the teachers who teach the way they need to be taught. The definition of what makes a "good" teacher is so relative - we could carry on a whole discussion about the qualities of what makes a teacher "good"... in fact... http://forums.atozteacherstuff.com/showthread.php?p=1052526#post1052526
     
  17. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    How could we expect, or accept, any less for any of our children?
     
  18. Ron6103

    Ron6103 Habitué

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    Perhaps I misspoke or was misunderstood then as to my above statement on "wishful thinking". I agree, without any doubt whatsoever, that every child needs and deserves a great teacher.

    But my point was, that isn't the reality of the world we live in. There are thousands (if not more) teachers out there who are frankly... not great (and many of you probably know some of these people). Their students are not getting the best possible education they can. I can name several such people in my building, right off the top of my head

    Is that unfortunate? Absolutely! But... such is life. There are teachers in almost every school who are not terrifically good at their jobs, either because they never were, or because they've grown tired (or whatever). Many of these people have tenure, and so removing them is seldom an option.

    And so the question becomes... what do we do with these people? Which students go to the "great" teachers, and which students go to the "not so great" teachers? It's a crappy choice to have to make, but it's a choice schools have to make each and every year.
     
  19. Mamacita

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    I have always thought it a crying shame that the cream gets so little and the lowest common denominator seems to garner most of everything. We have varsity sports and all kinds of attention and awards for the physically gifted, but the good kids and the smart kids are shunted to the side because there's just not enough time or energy left after dealing with the "other" kids. And no, I am NOT mocking Spec. Ed, but I might be really exasperated that badly behaved, defiant, and disruptive kids are not deal with more severely and gotten out of the way of the nice kids. When are we going to give the smart, nice kids some attention? They're the ones who deserve it most!
     
  20. mom2ohc

    mom2ohc Habitué

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    I so agree with this!!

    everyone needs a good teacher!
     
  21. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    Absolutely! :) I teach advanced fourth, and I know it is my calling. I know I could teach lower level students effectively, but I feel called to challenge my students every day. High achievers CAN fall behind- they can make a very small progression in one year if they are not challenged!
     
  22. Pieces of Arzt

    Pieces of Arzt Rookie

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    Ms. Jasztal,

    Your reply makes me so sad for myself. :( I am considered by many around me to be a strong teacher, and I did have the advanced students...and now I'm being told I must teach the lower end of the spectrum BECAUSE I'm a strong teacher. :( I feel like I will do a good job of this (I will certainly try), but as you said, I know what my calling is, and this isn't it. :(
     
  23. schoolteacher

    schoolteacher Habitué

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    At the school where I previously worked (in an inner city, where most students were well below grade level), the more advanced class was given the strongest teacher. I believe the idea behind this was that these kids had a good chance to succeed academically, and that potential success was a precious commodity in that neighborhood.
     
  24. janney

    janney Cohort

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    I took AP calc in high school and we didn't have a teacher. The smartest kid in the group ended up being the teacher. I should probably thank him...

    Everyone needs a strong teacher that is going to push them to their fullest potential. Without that how will our society advance?
     
  25. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Advanced kids may have some natural ability when it comes to certain academics-but let me tell you, they still have to be taught. Sometimes I have to teach reading backwards (they can read but still need to learn sounds/phonics, the mechanics of it).

    We just looked at stats for our school today- a magnet school - our gt kids' scores drop in certain grades by 57%, 76%. Do you know why that is - because someone is assuming that their reading instruction can be - go over there and read this book or help this other kids learn his times tables. To have a belief that only the struggling kids need good teachers just eats my lunch!
     
  26. eduk8r

    eduk8r Enthusiast

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    I think that's a blanket statement that isn't well thought out (what the op was told)... The strongest teacher in HS math might be the weakest teacher in 2nd grade... we usually have specific strengths and weaknesses, not general, like this statement.
     
  27. knitter63

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    The first thought that popped into my head when I read the original post was: WHO decides who is the strongest teacher-and who is the weakest? I see so much wrong with this-discrimination comes to mind.
    All teachers have strong and weak moments. I agree with eduk8r-this statement is a blanket statement, and not well thought out.
     
  28. KateL

    KateL Habitué

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    I was one of those AP kids. When we got stuck with a teacher who didn't know the material, we lost all respect for that teacher, no matter how good s/he was at classroom management or engaging us in the material. Teachers of advanced students definitely need to know their content.
     
  29. foxteach1

    foxteach1 Rookie

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    Good for you! I think you have really hit on the crux of the whole thing. We all have different gifts and personalities, just like our kids. As much as I enjoyed my gifted pullout classes, I still wanted to have more relationship with all kids of kids, and when I moved to a regular classroom, found that my greatest strength seems to be with the squirrely boys that most of the teachers in the school complained about! It's about finding your fit and then continuing to work to be the best you can be for those kids.
     
  30. multilingual

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    I feel that it's just as difficult to teach the higher performing kids as it is the lower performing kids. It's just really unfortunate that so many of the neediest students are not given very strong teachers in many schools. On the other hand, it's also unfortunate that gifted kids are not given strong teachers as well. I'm of the persuasion that every single kid needs a strong teacher.
     
  31. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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    They're swept under the NCLB rug!
     
  32. fuzed_fizzion

    fuzed_fizzion Comrade

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    I have heard a similar version before. It is a misuse of some research that was done on lowere socieconomic versus higher socioecominic schools. The idea is that lower SES schools typically have teachers with less experience. Once they gain experience some teachers transfer/move to a school with a higher SES. The researchers stated that because typically children at schools have more needs that need to be addressed by schools, the more experienced teacher should be at those schools. Many people have now tried to use that as a basis for moving teachers around at any school for low/mid/high level classes.

    I think the discussion should be more about what can we do to make sure all students have strong teachers. We know that not everyone is a strong teacher all the time. What can be done to provide support in a nonthreatening way?
     
  33. LakeSophie

    LakeSophie Comrade

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    I agree, WHO decides who is the strongest teacher? I think every teacher has their own very special area of talent. While many teachers are very versatile, each one has an area where they will just naturally excel.
     
  34. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    Everyone so far as focused on the needs of the kids, and this is important. What about the needs of the teachers? All kids need strong teachers, this is true. But I'm going to throw out this idea and duck lest I get hit with rotten tomatoes: No teacher should be pigeon-holed and forced to teach only one academic set of kids. For some reason I was pegged a few years back as the teacher who worked with the challenge children best with the result that I had a few years in a row of really low ability or behavior challenge kids. After a while I just went to the P and told her I really needed a break. How are we supposed to grow ourselves if we are only given limited experiences?

    running for cover
     
  35. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    I agree with those that said that all kids need great teachers.
    That said- some teachers are stronger in one area and weak in another. I am not good with low kids. I was always in honors classes as a student and I get frusterated with lower kids when they don't get things. That said, I am wonderful with high kids. I think like them and understand them.
    My principal is very much against ability leveled classes. However, this year she got this break down of our state test scores. It showed (in black and white) that I am great with high kids, good with average level kids and horrible with low kids. I knew this, and she did too, to an extent. Now, it is undeniable. This year, she has adjusted class lists to be more ability based. I get the high kids. Luckily, I am on a team of 3 teachers and we all are strong at different things- one is great with low and horrible with high, another is great with average and just OK with high or low. So, we will all be getting a class that we will be good at teaching.
    THAT is what all kids deserve.
    Give me honors kids, and I am a strong teacher. Give me the struggling students, and they will not improve much and I will want to pull my hair out!
     
  36. SSA

    SSA Companion

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    A better maxim might be that a teacher should teach whatever type of students that they are best at teaching and that students should ideally get teachers who are best suited for their learning style.

    Ideally *nobody* ought to get the short end of the stick, but in an environment where there are clearly limited resources keeping hypothetical student john who is far below basic out of jail and off public assistance by getting him up to at least a basic level of competence so that he can hold down a job and be a productive member of society is probably more important than making sure that his more intelligent classmate jose who is advanced manages to get into a engineering program. While the smarter kid might go onto discover a cure for cancer or diabetes we pretty well know for sure that a kid who doesn't have some minimum level of competence is likely to be a drag on the public treasury at best and a public safety threat at worst. Being the part of the "smart" group through school I can empathize with the above average kids often getting the short end of the stick in public education, but I think that there are some bona fide reasons for focusing on getting the kids at the bottom up to basic standards than getting promising students to become stellar students.
     
  37. TeacherShelly

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    I'll bet the person who made the statement to the OP was thinking of test scores. Since the high and mid-performing kids will pass the tests, they want to focus their effort on those who are not.

    In my district, they seem to take kids who are just below benchmark for summer school - because they can possibly go over that line, while the lowest performers may make growth, but not enough to go over benchmark. It makes me very angry and sad.
     
  38. eduk8r

    eduk8r Enthusiast

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    I like what you said, runswscissors! It makes good sense. :)
     
  39. Pieces of Arzt

    Pieces of Arzt Rookie

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    Why run for cover, runswscisssors? What you said is very true. :)
     
  40. Pieces of Arzt

    Pieces of Arzt Rookie

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    But of course. :)
     
  41. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    I don't know how to do this multi-quote reply thing so...

    ...Thank you eduk8r. It just feels like everyone is focused on the kids all the time. In the threads, in the news, in the meetings, and we, the teachers are bit actors in all of this. It really makes me mad sometimes that people can't/don't/refuse to see that we are just as much a part of this (and IMO a much bigger part) as the tests and beucratic nonsense.

    ...and wy run for cover, Pieces of Arzt? Because things can and do get misinterpretted here sometimes and then turn nasty. It wouldn't be the first time I'd unintentionally started conflicts.
     

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