Sunday, March 28, 2010

What makes a teacher great? (School reformers, take note.)

Our kids need great teachers. Who makes the grade?
By Marc Fisher
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, March 28, 2010

The YouTube video shows an anonymous first-grade teacher trying, and failing, to get her students to discuss a book. You see kids yammering away, wandering off, squabbling with each other. The teacher snaps her fingers at one child, sends another to the corner and tells a boy, "You're really bugging me."

My job was to study a roomful of would-be teachers as they watched -- and gauge their reactions to determine if these candidates for a fellowship had what it takes to be "inspired teachers." But what could I really tell about a person's aptitude for teaching from how they responded to a few minutes of video?

When one candidate praised that first-grade teacher for her classroom management -- and then recommended using candy to get the kids to quiet down (Starbursts would be particularly effective, she said) -- even I knew that was the wrong answer.

But that same aspiring teacher, a few hours later, was the only one in the room to challenge a competitor who suggested that the way to teach geography to D.C. schoolchildren was to ask parents to talk to their kids about where their families lived before they came to the District. "You can't assume they can help their kids," she said. "You have to focus not on giving the kids the facts, but on getting them to want to know the facts."

Now I was confused; her ideas about discipline were flawed, but couldn't she become a teacher who opens up a child's world?

Read more HERE.

1 comment:

Meryl van der Merwe said...

Teachers who challenge and engage the students will find it easier to maintain discipline. If the kids are interested they will want to co-operate and the teacher does not need to be a disciplinarian to maintain control in the classroom.

I find the more fun and interactive I make lessons, the fewer discipline issues arise - even in a large class of mid-school boys.