Teacher – We’ve figured out what makes a good teacher

If you clicked on my blog thinking I had the secret to making you Teacher of the Year 2013, SORRY! The heading of this post, much like the article below is misleading.

A friend posted a link to this article on Facebook this afternoon: Gates Foundation study: We’ve figured out what makes a good teacher

So even though the article actually tells nothing about *WHAT* makes a good teacher, it does outline an interesting approach as how to identify a good teacher. Certainly far better than the oversimplified approaches that the media reports *may* be introduced in Australia, namely, test results and something linked to Institute of Teachers classification.

The $45M study shows that you can effectively identify a good teacher in 3 ways:

1. Observation by Principals, Peers and Education experts – This seems reasonable that other educators can identify effective teaching, although it is quite open to bias and personal opinion.

2. Statistical analysis to determine the “value added” – This is better than a simple “x students got band 6s” or using a single set of results eg. NAPLAN to determine the teacher performance. It allows for the highly talented teachers of special needs students to still be identified as great teachers and perhaps those who maybe underperforming even though they teach the most talented students.

3. Survey the students – The article seemed to have a tone of surprise when indicating the fact that students are a pretty good judge of who is and isn’t a good teacher. Yes the kids are pretty perceptive little beings and as long as you put any personality clashes aside, the will very reliably tell you (and often willingly) who they think are and aren’t good teachers. They are the ones actually in the classroom everyday.

Like all good research it was then repeated to see if the results were reliable, that is the teachers were tested again the following year with a different group of students.

This is probably the best model of assessing teacher performance I have seen, and certainly the only one thorough enough to determine a person’s salary. It does have one major flaw it took 3 years and funding from the world’s 2nd richest man to determine the performance of 3000 teachers, thats $15000 per teacher. Somehow given the state of education funding in NSW I don’t think this kind of performance assessment is feasible with NSW’s 58000 public school teachers and however many systemic and independent teachers. The article did state this method was being used to help identify and improve teachers in Denver – some more info about how it is being implemented and used would be interesting.

Well that reading and reflection just clocked me an hour of PD – 39 hours to go.

Read and comment and you can log it too. Here are the standards!

6.2.6- Participate constructively in formal and informal professional discussions with colleagues.

6.2.7 Demonstrate a commitment to continuous professional learning by exploring educational ideas, issues and research. 

Happy Holidays

-Mrs M


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