Saturday, May 07, 2005

What is good teaching?

I haven't been posting much lately -- things have been busy at school and I was out of town most of last week -- but I'm keeping up with things and will start posting with more frequency real soon.

Meanwhile check out this post and comments on Jenny D's site. Since research consistently shows that quality teachers are the single most important variable in educational achievement (click here for more on that), the questions she poses are absolutely critical:

[H]ow do you measure instruction? Is it a series of planned acts, like bypass surgery? Is it a series of planned, repeated acts, like practicing a free throw? How do you measure instruction? Is it like woodworking--a craft unmeasurable without knowing the endproduct? Or like painting or drawing, with a few key moves and then the rest left to the "artistic" talent of the artist? If it's the latter, then no wonder few taxpayers are ready to shell out more money for teaching. Why pay a pack of people to do a job that has nothing to do with skill or experience, but instead depends on some innate "star" quality?


I think, in the end, it is undeniable that there are no easy correlations between teaching and any other profession. It is absolutely unique. It's a blend of planning, improvising, and reflecting -- in equal parts -- that leads to good teaching. If any of those aspects are missing, a teacher will not be successful, no matter what metric is used.

Thanks, Jenny, for this useful topic. Keep up the good work.

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