We have all had good teachers and bad teachers. Most people clearly remember the horrible teachers and the fantastic teachers; there is a strange, easily identifiable, innate sense that these teachers are super or terrible. So why is it so difficult to determine where on the scale of terrible to fantastic teachers fall?
There is a current dilemma facing the world of education that is affecting teacher preparation programs, unions, and the upstart charter school programs: Bad teachers are keeping their jobs and not being forced to improve. One problem I have identified with this situation is, What exactly defines a bad teacher? It is certainly a far cry from the evaluation of students or parents, as my career experience has taught me that passing students are generally happy students (same for parents) (often, the same for administrators).
Which of these do you think defines a bad teacher?
- When a teacher breaks local, state, or federal laws?
- When a teacher is unprepared to educate students (no or virtually useless lesson plans, for example)?
- When a teacher is unable to accurately assess student achievement?
- When a teacher is not a master of the content and/or actively working to master the content that s/he is teaching?
- When a teacher is incapable of managing the discipline in a classroom?
- When a teacher does not love children?
A few additional questions worth pondering for this situation:
- Who should determine which are the good/bad teachers? (Who should determine that those people are doing their jobs correctly?)
- Is it better to assume teachers are good or bad until a preponderance of evidence might lead to their termination?
- What responsibility do administrators hold in placing teachers in situations that lead to their failing to be successful, such as forcing a teacher that is good with K-2 kids to work in 4th grade because there is a greater need in that grade?
- If there is little or no administrative support at the school or district level, how much responsibility can be placed on the teacher?
Please do not be so naive to think that just signing up to be a teacher means you can teach all kids all subjects (and all sub-subjects, such as Economics is a subset of Social Studies) at all levels under almost any circumstances at almost any time.
There are bad teachers and there are good teachers. What suggestions do you have for identifying them correctly and responding to their identification?