Schools look for ways to identify good teachers

  • Article by: Corey Mitchell , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 25, 2011 - 8:22 AM

How do you spot a quality teacher? A $200,000 grant could help Minneapolis city school officials answer that question.

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dtmonkeyboyNov. 2, 10 9:23 PM

my understanding is that due to poverty many students move schools frequently in Minneapolis...and that attendance is spotty...how do you teach kids that don't show up ready to learn...let alone don't show up at all....but it is easiest to blame the teachers.

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nancy1959Nov. 3, 10 3:37 PM

While your statement is true to an extent it isn't all the fault of the student. My sons both attended Minneapolis District recently. There are definitely some teachers that need to be more in tune with the students. It would help to get more teachers of color too. Of course, they won't even consider what parents think should be done. We don't know anything. Basically, we need teachers that can connect with the kids on all levels.

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wwallace67Nov. 3, 1010:10 PM

and while I fully support pay for performance, I do not think we should go in the other direction, pull a Jack Welch, and think we need to fire a certain percentage of teachers each year. Jack Welch was a fool.

The way to measure teacher performance is to measure student knowledge at the beginning of the year, and then at the end of the year. If students are learning, teachers are doing the job they are paid to do.

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wwallace67Nov. 3, 1010:17 PM

Teachers (and students) are not widgets. Yet, so much in education research is based on how the whole class does. Students are individuals. What works for one student, or group of students, doesn't work for another group. Same goes for teachers. One teacher may employ teaching methods very effectively, but those methods might be totally unsuitable for another teacher.

Imagine if you did medical research and determined that penicillin was the most effective method for treating an infection, based on a study of 1000 people. Well, does that mean you should give everybody with that particular infection penicillin? Even the few who are allergic to penicillin?

Students are individuals. Some students learn well doing group work. Other students learn better with lots of repetition. Yet other students can learn new concepts after one or two exercises, and can prove it on their tests.

Teachers want to be treated as individuals, but not a whole lot of them seem willing to adapt assignments to individual students.

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wwallace67Nov. 3, 1010:19 PM

We need more men as teachers. We need women, too, but there is no shortage of women teachers. We also need to recognize and celebrate the differences between girls and boys. In general, with exceptions, boys are more likely to be competitive, and girls are more likely to be collaborative.

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oftencorrectNov. 4, 1012:25 PM

Bottom line is this: Minneapolis spends 20 thousand a year to teach each child but can't seem to educate them. That is a system that is broken and many people are to blame. Here is a list of the people most responsible in order from most to least: parents, principals, teachers, parents, parents, parents, students.

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paloma15Nov. 4, 10 5:39 PM

emphasis on "HOW" (education through imagination) instead of "WHAT" to think (education through indoctrination) to achieve a different outcome.

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wwallace67Nov. 5, 10 9:06 AM

if you go carrying pictures of chairman Mao You ain't going to make it with anyone anyhow.

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teacher247Nov. 5, 10 1:15 PM

I was one of those teachers who got laid off from Mpls...4 years in a row and then called back days before school started to begin my new school year...I finally left for a different district. I believe Mpls. teachers/staff are some of the BEST I have ever worked with!!! There is a systematic problem that is not working...in many districts. One question I have is if peer coaches should really be doing teacher evaluations?? Maybe an unbiased outsider needs to be doing these evaluations. Then, this information should not be used to punish teachers, but used as a tool to determine who needs support and in what areas (professional development training, mentor program, to observe effective teachers, etc.). Also, standardized test scores in reading and math are not the only indicator if a student's success in reading and math...and in life. We need to connect these skills to real life purposes and not some biased question on a test. Parents also need to be held accountable; they need to be communicating/interacting with their children and teaching them their colors, shapes, and letters within the first five years of their life so children are not entering school already behind! And they need to continue to support throughout... Many do this, THANK YOU! We also need to have some REAL conversations about cultural differences! This makes American schools different from many countries that are performing better than us; we have a beautiful culture of diversity while many countries do not. And finally, we also need awesome principals...when will be begin evaluating them!

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farcicalNov. 5, 10 8:23 PM

Conduct a double-blind study using a reputable, impartial outside consulting agency. REQUIRE every student and parent to answer a detailed survey for each teacher and have each teacher answer a detailed survey for each student. Break down the data by age, gender, race/ethnicity, standardized test results, grades, course level (comprehensive, honors, AP/IB, SpecEd, etc.), school, zip code, etc. If EVERY kid earns an "A" in a class and the teacher gets "outstanding" grades, compare the standardized test results with a teacher of similar students who may have more grade variations. The "outstanding" teacher may simply be easy and nice, but not any good as an instructor/evaluator. It would be a nice baseline of data to analyze and maybe target some teachers as examples of excellence for replication and deficiency needing support. Subjectivity of individual assessments becomes more balanced with a large number surveys. As it stands now, a teacher is officially evaluated by 1-2 administrators, maybe a colleague or two, and nothing more. GATHER DATA!!!

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