Tuesday, June 16, 2009

To which I initially want to respond "duh", but then I remember that most people don't really think about this unless they are in one of these schools or working with the neediest kids. 

McGuire Writes,"According to the research, teacher experience is at least a partial predictor of success in the classroom and, at present, one of the only approximations for teacher quality widely available. Experienced teachers tend to have better classroom management skills and a stronger command of curricular materials. Novice teachers on the other hand struggle during their initial years in any classroom."

She is right. Through out my first year of teaching this year I have found myself looking up to those teachers who have been there the longest. I have found myself admiring their management skills, their understanding of material, and being amazed at the growth their students make. It is important to have quality teachers in school with the neediest students, and experience is certainly part of that. Special pay to work in urban schools might help, but I think there are a lot of other factors. 

Schools in urban communities with consistently low performing students are under certain pressures that are not wholly felt at other schools. When I went to public school testing was there, and it was important, but I never spent a single class preparing for tests. The culture is very different in consistently high performing schools. There is no dark gray cloud that somehow, the school will fail. School culture is am important factor I believe in keeping teachers at a school, and I am not sure that the neediest schools provide the culture that keeps teachers. A happy teacher is much more likely to stay at a school with needy students. 

I think another important factor is the general retention rate of teachers. I don't know any statistics, but I know it is hard to keep teachers in general. Teachers come and they go, but keeping them in the profession itself is important. Does this go back to culture? I think so, it also goes to creating links between community, school, and politics. 

I'm just a newbie, I have very few answers. What I do know as I round out my first year in a public school is that I'm coming back. I feel more prepared for my second year of teaching that I thought I could. I am still learning, and still progressing myself as a teacher and it will take time. 

Note: McGuire did NOT mention Teach For America in this article which I find strange considering that TFA only places core members in "needy" or lower socioeconomic schools. Considering I believe the true goal of TFA is to create people who work towards educational change towards policy and administration (less than creating life long teachers) I do see a difference, but it still must be said that teachers with less than existent student teaching are placed in the classroom yearly across the country, why, because often no one else wants to do it. We have to have SOMEONE in the classroom, why not put someone there who at least wants to be there. 

Thanks to "This Week In Education" for helping me find this article. 

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