What makes a great teacher? Part II

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Caissa

Sven himself made the greatest argument against performance based remuneration when he wrote:Probably the biggest factor (for good or ill) is parental involvement in their kids' education.  But, that's hard to control or even influence.

Sven Sven's picture

Caissa wrote:

Sven himself made the greatest argument against performance based remuneration when he wrote:Probably the biggest factor (for good or ill) is parental involvement in their kids' education.  But, that's hard to control or even influence.

Actually, that observation would be correct if teachers were irrelevant and the only factor dictating school outcomes was the degree of parental involvement.  But, that is clearly not the case.

Caissa

I'm not going down another debate about teacher efficacy other than to say that the primary influence on students academic success is their parents involvement or lack thereof.

Sven Sven's picture

Caissa wrote:

I'm not going down another debate about teacher efficacy other than to say that the primary influence on students academic success is their parents involvement or lack thereof.

With that I totally agree.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

Social class is the biggest factor in determining student success.

2. Bowles and Gintis demonstrated that what schools do, above all, is to reproduce social classes that already exist. Look it up.

3. Furthermore, How MUCH schooling children get - elementary, secondary, college, university, is directly connected to parental social class. There are plenty of studies - and some of which are in Cananda - that have demonstrated this.

 

Sven Sven's picture

N.Beltov wrote:

Social class is the biggest factor in determining student success.

2. Bowles and Gintis demonstrated that what schools do, above all, is to reproduce social classes that already exist. Look it up.

3. Furthermore, How MUCH schooling children get - elementary, secondary, college, university, is directly connected to parental social class. There are plenty of studies - and some of which are in Cananda - that have demonstrated this.

I don't disagree with that and, so, let's stipulte that social class significantly affects (but is not determinative of) educational outcomes.

That may be an argument for why lower class sizes (as an example) may be more appropriate in schools which serve low-income populations (relative to schools which serve higher-income populations). But, that's not an agrument for having stellar teachers compensated at the same rate as slug teachers (or for not getting rid of slug teachers).

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

The whole thing is premised on some rather empty headed view of "results". Teaching creative and critical thinking are excluded, by definition, because such things are virtually impossible to quantify.That's just one example. The whole shebang goes back to a fetish for testing, endlessly, as though that has anythign to do with actual learning. I could go on.

I'm sorry if I sould a little over the top. To me it's like an imminent attack or invasion of a rather sacred part of what makes Canada great.

Sven Sven's picture

N.Beltov wrote:

The whole thing is premised on some rather empty headed view of "results". Teaching creative and critical thinking are excluded, by definition, because such things are virtually impossible to quantify.  That's just one example. The whole shebang goes back to a fetish for testing, endlessly, as though that has anythign to do with actual learning. I could go on.

I think the quality of a teacher depends on both quantitative and qualitative factors.

Making a qualitative assessment is not easy but it can be done.  It's not a lot different than making a qualitative assessment of a lawyer's abilities.  After working with a lawyer for a while (either as a colleague or across the table from her), I can tell whether the lawyer is skilled, average, or a moron (most are just average).  The same is true for physicians, engineers, architects, and, yes, teachers.

We all know from personal experience that there are teachers who are idiots and who have no business being in a classroom.  Is that assessment quantitative?  No.  I had one teacher who, quite properly, ended up being named the Minnesota Teacher of the Year.  He was unquestionably superlative as an instructor.  At the same time, I had a teacher who did virtually nothing but use up vital classroom oxygen.  Everyone who dealt with those two teachers knew what their relative qualitative skills were.  It wasn't a big secret.

Making teacher assessments is not easy but it's not even remotely close to being "virtually impossible".

Fidel

Does anyone have advice for those of us who might be considering teaching? 

bump

Caissa

I have a B.Ed. and have taught at the university level. What sort of advice are you looking for Fidel?

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Fidel! I read the previous message you wrote. Congratulations! That is great news. Are you leaning towards teaching or not?

I've only taught a few years and all at the university or adult-education level, so very different from high school or elementary school, but for me it's a very rewarding, very frustrating and very challenging vocation. I can't really offer advice, but it's so exciting that you are making this decision.

Fidel

Thanks guys. I suppose I am looking to know what to expect at teacher's college at the secondary school level. And anything else related to teaching is fine, too. It doesn't necessarily have to be about high school ed or me. I don't want to takeover the thread for the sake of focusing on my agenda alone. Just thought I'd bump the thread as a reminder to rubberneckers that it does exist, and that it is a possible topic of discussion. Smile

Caissa

There may be others with more teaching experience than me on Babble. I'll take a stab at this fidel and it may be helpful or not.

By the time I did my education degree I had already taught, chess, tennis and raquetball, as well as Canadian history at the university level. I began this degree after 11 years of pse cilminating with being ABD in my doctoral programme. I had decided I didn't want to be a professor after all and would return to my first love teaching high school.

I completed my B.Ed. at a small school with only 60 of us in my cohort. It was a year of unlearning and learning. I quickly learned that most of what I thought I knew about teaching was based on my preferences as a student. My educational psychology classes were especially eye-opening in this regard. As well it was a year of learning to see with teacher's eyes as opposed to student eyes.Confronting my own educational prejudices was particularly painful although I believe I am a better teacher for having done so.

My B.Ed. included two teaching internships. My first was at the junior high I attended 15 years previously with my former English teacher being my supervising teacher. I taught grade 9 English and social studies. I flourished and loved the experience. In retrospect this is where I began to struggle with classroom management, my least favourite part of teaching. They say that the best classroom maneagtement is well-prepared lessons and knowledge of your field. Teaching 37 minute classes at the grade 9 level halped me to minimize disciplinary issues because the clock would often be my saviour.

My second  six week internship was a nightmare. I was teaching 3 different subjects with 3 different supervising teachers in 70 minute classes. One of the subjects I had not taken since I had taken it as a student from my supervising teacher 14 years before. In Ancient and medieval history I was barely staying ahead of the students. My Maritime studies course had the chalenge of students who were struggling with school self-selecting for it. It was considered an easier subject than Ancient and Medieval history. Despite knowing the material , I struggled with adequately planning 70 minute lessons and developing effective classroom management techniques. My third course, Canadian history was a breeze since that was my academic speciality. Ver few classroom management problems and in retrospect I didn't handle those very well.

I guess the takeaway is the importance of developing good classroom management skills. I left my B.Ed. not sure if i wanted to teach. I landed a position in a university writing centre in 1994, a form of one on one teaching. In the last 18 years I have ussed the skills I learned in my B.Ed. in the university student services field as a writing centre consultant, academic and career counsellor, student development counsellor and student employment counsellor. Most of my teaching has been one on one. When I have ventured into the classroom, it has been to teach at risk students how to suceed in university. I think they benefited from my B.Ed. experience.

I hope that is helpful Fidel and I hope I haven't bored too many people. I'd love to hear of the teaching experiences of fellow babblers.   

Fidel

Thank you, Caissa. Wow! That's impressive. I have some experience with adult ed and tutoring adults. I have no experience whatsoever in a class room other than the 80 plus hours mentoring young people in a robotics club, FIRSt robotics competition this spring. Lesson planning wasn't too difficult for me in adult ed(unpaid volunteer) as they allowed me plenty of slack. It is a learn at their own pace sort of thing. I realize lesson plans in high school will be more structured and goal-oriented. I am somewhat familiar with creating individualized lesson plans for one or two people at a time, and so larger classes will be a challenge for me. I'm thinking that supply teaching will be a reality for me for some time, but I am willing and able. I have some personal challenges to overcome as well. I am hard of hearing. 

Caissa

Police in Georgia handcuffed a kindergartner after the girl threw a tantrum at school, and the police chief defended the action.

The girl's family demanded Tuesday that the central Georgia city of Milledgeville change its policy so that other children aren't treated the same way. They say the child was shaken up by being put in a cell at the police station.

Salecia Johnson, 6, was accused of tearing items off the walls and throwing furniture in an outburst Friday at Creekside Elementary School, Macon television station WMAZ-TV reported. Police said the girl knocked over a shelf that injured the principal.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2012/04/17/georgia-kindergarten-handc...

Fidel

I think some people attain their ultimate level of incompetence, and they never look back. It could be a law of nature or something.

Caissa

A quote from a Dr. Seuss book about a turtle trying to assert his rights is too political for students who shouldn't be caught in the middle of the current teachers' dispute, says a school administrator in Prince Rupert, B.C.

Dave Stigant, acting director of instruction for the local school district, said Wednesday he vetoed a quote from Yertle the Turtle when a teacher asked him to look at about 20 quotes to determine if they would be appropriate to expose students to during the ongoing labour dispute.

The quote was: "I know up on top you are seeing great sights, but down here on the bottom, we too should have rights."

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2012/04/25/bc-seuss...

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I had good teachers in public school in the late 50s and early 60s, but after those years, all the teachers I had truly sucked, until I started my Master's degree at Trinity. Fanshawe College and Trent University were especially bad, but maybe that was more due to large class sizes and teachers being overly stressed. The only thing good about Fanshawe (1969 - 1971) was the weekend concerts at London's Wonderland, and occasional bus trips to Wayne State University in Detroit to hear some incredible soul  and rock.  I never understood why Trent was held in high esteem, I couldn't wait to get out of that place. It was mostly rich kids getting drunk all the time, but maybe it's changed since 1975-1977.  Trinity College was great, the only drawback was the residence - and certain traditions in Strachan Hall. After one year, I started a housing co-op (off campus) with other students not associated with Trinity.

Fidel

I'm looking at renting the cheapest damn place I can get come September. And I get the feeling there will be some wealthy people's kids living in better housing than I will. I've looked at some of the blogs for student housing in that city of which the name rhymes with Blingston, and money doesn't seem to be an issue for some of them. Some are concerned mainly about location with respect to entertainment and all the high spots. And I will need to do group projects with some of these kids. Gulp!

Caissa

These study looks at what makes a good student. Its findings provide empirical evidence to what educators have known for a long time.

A study released Friday by the Toronto District School Board, shows that giving children a nutritious breakfast each morning has a direct effect on their academic performance.

The two-year study, Feeding Our Future, followed 6,000 Toronto students. It found those who were fed properly had improved marks and better behaviour.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/story/2012/05/11/toronto-school-nutrition.html

Caissa

Codiac Regional RCMP say no criminal charges will be laid against a Moncton teacher accused of taping two students together as a form of punishment for not getting along in class.

The investigation of the alleged November incident at Lewisville Middle School is complete and the teacher, who has continued working, has been cleared of any criminal wrongdoing, police said.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/story/2013/01/07/nb-teacher-tape-students-moncton.html

Fidel

Thanks, Caissa. Something I read from OSSTF states that an estimated 60% of kids in Ontario are arriving at school in the morning with empty bellies. That's awful. Some schools in Southern and Eastern Ontario do provide breakfasts and lunches, but it's certainly not the case in most of the province.

Caissa

Our son's elementary school has a free  breakfast programme every day and free lunch most days. The school is in what the city has euphemistically dubbed a "priority neighbourhood. 

Sven Sven's picture

Fidel wrote:

Thanks, Caissa. Something I read from OSSTF states that an estimated 60% of kids in Ontario are arriving at school in the morning with empty bellies. That's awful. Some schools in Southern and Eastern Ontario do provide breakfasts and lunches, but it's certainly not the case in most of the province.

There is no way that 60% of Ontario students don't have access to any food at home for breakfast -- which is what I think you were implying in that post.  The percentage of students without any food at home isn't insignificant, but I'm quite sure that it isn't anywhere near 60%.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Not for the province but I suspect some schools would fall into that category.  A third of all kids arriving hungry is huge given there are many areas where there are way less than that.

Georgia Straight wrote:

Nutrition crusader Lisa Werring, for example, notes that about a third of elementary-school kids in Canada don’t eat a daily breakfast. That jarring statistic is from a 2010 study by Breakfast for Learning, a national nonprofit organization that raises funds for school breakfast programs. (It gave out $131,675 in B.C. in 2009.) The group’s view is that hungry kids can’t learn.

“Poverty is the biggest part of it,” Werring, the Breakfast for Learning coordinator for B.C., told the Straight in a phone interview from White Rock. She said she hopes the federal government will take over school food programs to mandate consistency and universality—and put her organization out of business.

“But also, when you have two parents working, Mom and Dad may already be at work [before the kids leave for school]. So if there isn’t something organized, they’ll [the kids will] just dash out the door to school. There are a lot of factors. In the end, it doesn’t matter why kids are showing up to school hungry. They just are.”

In B.C., the Ministry of Education’s CommunityLINK program, which funds some hot lunch programs, targets low-income areas. In Vancouver, for example, 27 schools have a provincially funded meal program, out of 109 in total. The ministry indicates which schools should get programs based on the Social Services Index—a formula that considers the number of kids in ministry care and the number of students identified by administrators as “vulnerable”.

http://www.straight.com/news/advocates-push-school-lunch-program-funding-bc

Fidel

Sven wrote:
There is no way that 60% of Ontario students don't have access to any food at home for breakfast -- which is what I think you were implying in that post.  The percentage of students without any food at home isn't insignificant, but I'm quite sure that it isn't anywhere near 60%.

The OSSTF doc said nothing about access to food just that most of them are coming to school without having eaten breakfast.

Today's situation could be the reverse of that which existed in the deep south in the 1960's. Conservatives today don't understand that even though the poor might have microwaves and cooking utensils, the cupboards are not full all 31 days a month. Microwaves and colour TVs are a dime a dozen these days, but the cost of groceries rarely goes down.

In addition to all of this, I can say for sure that Canada's neoconservatives are no smarter than your's, Sven. Kids are the future, and our neolibs/neoconservatives don't give a damn about the future. Their job descriptions are merely to perform colonial admininstrative tasks and shovel some $60 billion every year in interest payments unnecessarily to domestic and foreign creditors and some other people no one ever votes for. Our corrupt stooges are claiming political impotence on the quiet the same as yours do, and they're pretty bad actors.

I never heard of foodbanks while growing up in 1970's Canada. It was an American thing as far as everyone knew. And then came the ideologues. They said they could make our economies more efficient. Canadians didn't ask for whom our economies would be made more efficient?

About hunger in Canada

Sven Sven's picture

Fidel wrote:

Sven wrote:
There is no way that 60% of Ontario students don't have access to any food at home for breakfast -- which is what I think you were implying in that post.  The percentage of students without any food at home isn't insignificant, but I'm quite sure that it isn't anywhere near 60%.

Today's situation could be the reverse of that which existed in the deep south in the 1960's. Conservatives today don't understand that even though the poor might have microwaves and cooking utensils, the cupboards are not full all 31 days a month. Microwaves and colour TVs are a dime a dozen these days, but the cost of groceries rarely goes down.

In the USA, per the USDA, the percentage of income spend on food has been declining for decades:

1930s: 23.0% of income went towards food

1940s: 20.4%

1950s: 19.3%

1960s: 15.4%

1970s: 13.5%

1980s: 12.1%

1990s: 10.8%

2000s: 9.8%

In other words, food is becoming cheaper because a diminishing percentage of work hours are needed to earn the money necessary to pay for one's food.  I wouldn't be surprised if half of all income went food as recently as the mid- to late-1800s.

I would assume that the Canadian percentages are similar.

Fidel

Compare the cost of food today with 75 years ago.  Price of oranges is up 95 percent.

Superrich Americans and Canadians might be paying fewer and fewer taxes as percentages of their incomes to governments, but the banks, newly landed aristocracy and the rentier class are gouging people for the cost of living at every turn.

The problem is too much unearned income - it removes any and all incentives for monopoly capitalists to lower prices or invest in general. Farming is a huge and mainly U.S. taxpayer-funded monopoly for big agribusinesses in North America. They've become Soviet in size since western world governments Stalinized food production and economic theory in kind.

OCAP wrote:
People on Ontario Works are living on incomes that are a devastating 60% lower than they were in 1995 and over 20% lower than when the Harris Tories left office. Now, that wretched sub poverty income will continue to be driven down further by the 'poverty reduction' Liberals as the cost of food and other necessities increases significantly.

Food prices spike,  crop yields decline since 1990 (Oxfam)

Sven Sven's picture

Fidel wrote:

Compare the cost of food today with 75 years ago.  Price of oranges is up 95 percent.

You do realize, don't you, that that represents only an annual increase of less than 1% per year in the cost of oranges?  Over that same period of time, the consumer price index has increased by about 1500% (or an average annual inflation rate of about 3.8%).

Food is cheaper now than at any time in human history.

Fidel

Sven wrote:

Fidel wrote:

Compare the cost of food today with 75 years ago.  Price of oranges is up 95 percent.

You do realize, don't you, that that represents only an annual increase of less than 1% per year in the cost of oranges?  Over that same period of time, the consumer price index has increased by about 1500% (or an average annual inflation rate of about 3.8%).

Food is cheaper now than at any time in human history.

I don't know about that. At one time in medieval England a person could work just one or two months and provide for a family for a year. That was before the enclosure period and dissolution of the monasteries. IOW's, before private property laws were enacted leading to the proliferation of oppressive labour laws to prevent peasants/cheap labour from living free lives in the forests. Because when people can no longer squat on and pioneer the king's land nor afford to pay "market" prices for food, the state is obligated at that point to ensure everyone is fed, clothed and housed properly otherwise the people might riot or even choose to side with an invading foreign army for lack of patriotic feelings for the corrupt regime.

If food is so cheap in the country with large regions of lush and fertile farmland, then why are there 50 million food insecure Americans today? And just as importantly, why are so many kids in Ontario showing up at schoolhouse doors with MT bellies?