08 March 2010

NYT Magazine: Build a Better Teacher

Yesterday, I spent an hour reading "Build a Better Teacher" and the accompanying comments.  I'm not sure the article (or Lemov's Taxonomy) has all of the answers. I perused the videos and was struck by the fact that all of the students were in uniform and they all seem to be in charter schools.

As an education community, we cannot ignore the fact that most charter schools can choose who attends their school and can dismiss students who are not holding up their end of the bargain (I got one of those students just recently. I asked why the student was transferring schools in the middle of the year and the student responded that he/she had been kicked out of the charter school for poor attendance). I am allowed to refer students for disruptive behavior or poor attendance and an excessive number of tardies, but they are not transferred out of my room to improve the learning experience for the other 35 students.

I know that at some schools in my district teachers are more concerned about getting basic needs met for their students. Teachers could have the best management techniques in the world, but if a kid is coming to you every day hungry or has experienced violence in the home or community, there are a few other things to worry about than whether or not Johnny is paying attention.

So...what does this mean for public schools? Honestly, I'm not sure. We need to look at the entire picture of education, not just what the teachers are doing and how test scores are improving (or not).