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Teaching: gaining experience matters

February 28, 2009 pm28 10:05 pm

Kids should have, to the extent possible, well-trained, experienced teachers. Where we have newer teachers, we should do everything possible to help them gain the experience and seasoning we expect, and help them become our senior, well-trained, experienced teachers.

Those sentences divide us from the current administration of New York City and its Department of Education. They also divide us from Teach for America, from Michelle Rhee, and from the people running the schools in several other major cities.

They also divide us from most (not all) charter school advocates, and from most (but not old school) small school advocates. They divide us from all of the anti-experience reformers.

Those sentences, strangely enough, put us on the same side of the educational divide as many suburban administrators. Strange, eh?

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. March 1, 2009 am31 2:24 am 2:24 am

    Bill Gates also feels that teachers don’t improve much after three years. In his talk at TED, he asks two questions. The first part is malaria but the education part starts at 8:12. “What makes a great teacher”

    After a while he gets to what his data indicates as causing improvement in test scores, compared to the average teacher. Past performance is the largest, helping scores by 10 percent. Teacher being a math major gives 3 percent. Teach Fr America grad means a 1 percent bump and teacher with a master’s doesn’t help at all.

    He makes the point that after 3 years, teachers don’t gain in the amount they help students compared to the average teacher.

    I talk about it a bit here:
    http://mathcurmudgeon.blogspot.com/2009/02/ted-bill-gates-has-great-idea.html

    The TED presentation is here.
    http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/bill_gates_unplugged.html

    • March 1, 2009 am31 2:33 am 2:33 am

      When I was writing, I couldn’t remember why I was thinking that Gates belonged (though we know his money was instrumental in breaking up large high schools in New York, I couldn’t recall his anti-experience stuff)

      Of course, I read it originally on your blog…

      By the way, where does one leave comments on your problem of the day? I had the same math, but was hoping to share a slightly different presentation.

  2. March 1, 2009 am31 2:29 am 2:29 am

    Can you say more about “the same side of the educational divide as many suburban administrators”? I’m curious what you are referencing. Anecdotally, my suburban district (board, administration, teachers, parents, union) seems just fine with our tenure system and pay scale based largely on experience.

    I’ve often wondered where Michelle Rhee is going to find this maaaaagical pool of “excellent teachers” to replace all the people she’s trying to fire.

    Reading about the new administration’s potential policies has made me start to reason this way – if they tie pay to my students’ performance on standardized tests – and the one thing we know the tests effectively measure is the kids’ families’ incomes – then there’s no WAY I’m moving to an urban school, as I thought I might. People have to make a living.

    • March 1, 2009 am31 2:37 am 2:37 am

      In the suburbs, at least around here, there may be a revolving door for the newest teachers, but each school has a core of experienced teachers, and a fair number of replacements in training.

      This is not what is occurring in New York City, and, I take it, in several other large urban systems. They (the bad guys) are encouraging and glorifying high turnover.

      Even within NYC there is a range. In schools that cater to the upper middle class, there is far more stability, a far greater likelihood that a kid will have at least some teachers with a fair amount of experience.

      Anyway, I am rambling. Did I answer your question?

  3. Jason permalink
    March 1, 2009 am31 2:42 am 2:42 am

    I wouldn’t say I’m against teaching experience, however my problem is that we (I’m an 8th grade sci teacher in San Jose) use it as our only criteria for nearly everything.

    I haven’t heard a single good reason why teacher quality shouldn’t matter when it comes to pay and who gets fired, especially now with 30% of our district having just gotten pink slipped.

  4. March 1, 2009 am31 2:50 am 2:50 am

    Yes, ty. I’m just not sure that’s a conscious choice, by now, on anyone’s part…they just expect people to stay (mostly positive environment, decent pay). Seems like the decision to harrass people into leaving in the cities is a more directed effort to effect a certain outcome.

  5. edbooked permalink
    March 1, 2009 pm31 8:46 pm 8:46 pm

    Political interference is the bane of public education in America. Why pay for experienced teachers when new hires are less expensive? You will enjoy reading The Twilight’s Last Gleaming On Public Education, available via http://www.Xlibris.com. It provides great insight into the real world of public education in America. Well worth the read. Search online bookstores by book title. Systemic, politically motivated policies and practices have proven more detrimental to student learning that struggling teachers.

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