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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Can You Fix Broken Teachers?

Get rid of professional development.
Stop throwing good money after bad.
Once a bad teacher, always a bad teacher.

You don't agree? Perhaps I'm reading too much into a new Department of Education report called the Middle School Mathematics Professional Impact Study. The study concluded that intensive, state-of-the-art training to improve teaching skills doesn’t seem to lead to significant improvements in student achievement, even when the teachers who underwent the training changed some of their instructional methods.

Teachers in 12 medium to large schools underwent 68 hours of rigorous training that covered the teaching of such hard-to-grasp mathematical concepts. It spanned several months and included summer programs, follow-up sessions and some in-class coaching.

Is it possible that such a quick fix solution isn't the only way to go?

I'm a teacher of over 20 years, and I constantly tweak my instructional practice in response to workshops, professional readings, collegial relationships, and technological innovation. Does every change in my practice result in a corresponding improvement in student achievement?

I wish.

Perhaps, cumulatively, those changes, along with changes instituted over time by my peers, will increase achievement. But perhaps those changes in instruction need a greater period of time to be measured before they can be discounted.

So just as a precaution, why don't we keep training our teachers, just in case. I don't think we'd throw up our hands in surrender and give up on our students this easily, so maybe teachers deserve just as much time and opportunity to develop and grow.


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