I started this week by reading the article by Gladwell. I enjoyed the parallels made between the problem of recruiting NFL quarterbacks to the problem of hiring effective teachers. Seeing it compared like that makes perfect sense! I really appreciated the idea of viewing teacher apprenticeship similarly to how the financial advisers viewed their candidates. Not only would this lead to more effective teachers, but it would also weed out people who are not cut out to be teachers. I honestly don't see why this couldn't be done in colleges and universities (other than schools losing out on tuition from people who "aren't meant to be"). As an undergraduate student, I remember thinking that certain students just wouldn't cut it. These are the same people that were either unable to pass the state testing, or who are unable to find and/or keep full time positions now that they are out of the teacher preparation program. Maybe it sounds cruel or that I'm too judgmental, but I agree that there is a "with-it-ness" that is so important. It would be a hard thing to evaluate, but if the time could be taken to have apprenticeship program for undergraduates the resulting teachers would be of a higher caliber.
I think Gladwell's article also tied in well with our reading from the Willingham book. Currently, the view by most is that anyone with a teaching certificate is obviously capable to being a teacher. The "professionals" at the college or university have deemed him or her worthy, as has the state where he or she wishes to teach, so why not trust that he or she is capable of doing the job? According to Willingham, it is because we as humans tend to believe what our peers believe. It is socially accepted that just because you can complete the coursework and tests to become a teacher that you are able to do a good job, just like if you were to become a mechanic or x-ray technician. Because society thinks this, we go along with it without giving it much thought (maybe not us as teachers, but you know what I mean).
In the end, I think it is important that teachers are viewed as we want our students viewed, that is as individuals with personalities, likes, dislikes, talents, and struggles. If we were to look at teachers this way from the start and nurture them in the ways that we nurture our students, the caliber of teacher in the classroom would improve, and in turn so would student achievement. One thing not mentioned that I think is a glaring omission is the discussion of high quality professional development. Teachers can't be expected to grow and continue learning when they are not being pushed to be better. I think that this would help in a lot of instances where Gladwell argues that the low performing teachers could be replaced (not that I am defending these teacher - I just think it is unfair to lump people together based on standardized test scores). In our classes, we don't simply replace our low performing students; we nurture them and press them to grow. While teaching is obviously different from being a student (i.e. teaching is a paying job), I would be concerned about losing potentially great teachers who just hadn't the luxury of being exposed to research and theory based educational practices.
I'm Edie - wife, mom, teacher, instructional designer, home renovator,
and lover of nature, travel, technology, and vintage campers!