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Attracting The "Best Candidates" To Teaching

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I wish I'd seen this posting to include in my own posting on Educators' News, A Few Words About Dennis. My posting also speaks to Matt's concern, "...there’s only very thin evidence that we can predict teacher effectiveness at all..." http://www.mathdittos2.com/ednews/archive/week347.html#dennis Steve Wood Educators' News

Overall, I agree with the main point of your article and believe the research cited is good. There are two questions I have. One, I think it would be very relevant to study the teacher make-up of the best charter schools in the country, that are taking students from low socio-economic backgrounds and leading them to very high, if not the highest, achievement levels in their respective districts. Do the majority of these teachers come from the top quintile of the labor market (in terms of their employment options across the board)? My guess would be yes. And this relates to the second point. In the traditional education mold (and ed. schools), few can agree as to what constitutes 'good teaching.' If t don't know what will produce the intended result, then then it really doesn't matter how bright and eager your young teachers are. However, in high performing charters, there is an emerging idea (in parts quite detailed) as to what constitutes effective teaching (think Doug Lemov). Then, you can study who is picking it up quickly and who isn't. My second point is that you neglected a lot of the recent research linking certification route to student achievement which found the most selective programs significantly outperformed the others (TFA & Vanderbilt in TN & TFA in North Carolina). What do you make of these studies? Look forward to your thoughts, v/r C. Stewart

DiCarlo's points are well taken, but the question remains: How do we create schools that equate with those in "high-performing nations such as Finland"? After decrying all current policy proposals, he offers none of his own. Yet Finland (and other Scandinavian countries) do succeed where we fail. I've also seen some impressive schools in France and in Barcelona. So, how? My guess is that it involves a societal attitude -- a sort of unwritten contract that their philosophers often call "social responsibility". The sort of thing that ultra conservatives in this country label "socialist" although it is nothing of the sort. One sees it at all levels -- in coordination of legal systems, worker protection, meaningful retirement, universal comprehensive health care systems, etc. Too often here we demand something for nothing, or for very little at any rate. Like, good teachers deprived of working conditions considered essential in other professional occupations. Perhaps we should provide some graduate student grants to find out.

Thank you for this interesting and original essay. Yet the challenge is not to find a way how to attract the 'top third' of students, but to turn the teaching job into such an attractive occupation that more students with a talent for teaching would consider becoming a teacher. At present, many of these talents - whoever they are, because their talent is not necessarily related to GPA - do not consider a career in teaching. This is exactly what Finland does right: make the teaching job so attractive (not with financial rewards, but with autonomy, time, purpose and status) that many students *want* to become a teacher - including the students with the biggest talents for teaching. It does not surprise that GPA is only weakly related to teaching success, as measured soon after picking up teaching. The merit of a highly schooled and intelligent teacher does not pay off at the first tests. And if the tests are narrow in scope, it will never reveal the teacher's many qualities. But again, the issue is not how to force these high-GPA's into teaching. The issue is how to make the teaching job so attractive that the talented students will self-select. My advice would be to normalize the teaching load (number of teaching hours, number of students a teacher sees every week). Furthermore, to raise the bar somewhat and establish a 'lower limit' for entrance into teacher education so that the very weakest students are excluded. Then start using normalized tests for their intended purpose: not to whip teachers but to inform them about their students and diagnose teaching problems. Create learning-oriented school cultures that award interest, effort and performance. Not with carrots & sticks, but with more learning. Because learning is its own reward.

Thank you for this interesting and original essay. Yet the challenge is not to find a way how to attract the 'top third' of students, but to turn the teaching job into such an attractive occupation that more students with a talent for teaching would consider becoming a teacher. At present, many of these talents - whoever they are, because their talent is not necessarily related to GPA - do not consider a career in teaching. This is exactly what Finland does right: make the teaching job so attractive (not with financial rewards, but with autonomy, time, purpose and status) that many students *want* to become a teacher - including the students with the biggest talents for teaching. It does not surprise that GPA is only weakly related to teaching success, as measured soon after picking up teaching. The merit of a highly schooled and intelligent teacher does not pay off at the first tests. And if the tests are narrow in scope, it will never reveal the teacher's many qualities. But again, the issue is not how to force these high-GPA's into teaching. The issue is how to make the teaching job so attractive that the talented students will self-select. My advice would be to normalize the teaching load (number of teaching hours, number of students a teacher sees every week). Furthermore, to raise the bar somewhat and establish a 'lower limit' for entrance into teacher education so that the very weakest students are excluded. Then start using normalized tests for their intended purpose: not to whip teacheThank you for this interesting and original essay. Yet the challenge is not to find a way how to attract the 'top third' of students, but to turn the teaching job into such an attractive occupation that more students with a talent for teaching would consider becoming a teacher. At present, many of these talents - whoever they are, because their talent is not necessarily related to GPA - do not consider a career in teaching. This is exactly what Finland does right: make the teaching job so attractive (not with financial rewards, but with autonomy, time, purpose and status) that many students *want* to become a teacher - including the students with the biggest talents for teaching. It does not surprise that GPA is only weakly related to teaching success, as measured soon after picking up teaching. The merit of a highly schooled and intelligent teacher does not pay off at the first tests. And if the tests are narrow in scope, it will never reveal the teacher's many qualities. But again, the issue is not how to force these high-GPA's into teaching. The issue is how to make the teaching job so attractive that the talented students will self-select. My advice would be to normalize the teaching load (number of teaching hours, number of students a teacher sees every week). Furthermore, to raise the bar somewhat and establish a 'lower limit' for entrance into teacher education so that the very weakest students are excluded. Then start using normalized tests for their intended purpose: not to whip teachers but to inform them about their students and diagnose teaching problems. Create learning-oriented school cultures that award interest, effort and performance. Not with carrots & sticks, but with more learning. Because learning is its own reward.rs but to inform them about their students and diagnose teaching problems. Create learning-oriented school cultures that award interest, effort and performance. Not with carrots & sticks, but with more learning. Because learning is its own reward.

Excuse me for the error in my posting. I hope it is legible nonetheless.

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