Today, the superintendent of our district made an announcement that the district will now try harder to weed out ineffective new teachers before they become somewhat permanent (after two years).
As much as I want students to receive high quality instruction, I don’t agree with this new policy.
First of all, we’ve got to find a way to measure teacher quality comprehensively before we start trying to define who is a good teacher and who is bad. There are many ways for teachers to be good, many ways for them to be bad. For example, imagine you’ve got two teachers. Teacher A is extremely dedicated, talented, and knows her content material but refuses to “teach to the test” so her students don’t do as well as her colleague, Teacher B, who isn’t as creative, smart, or talented but instead gives students near exact replicas of test questions before the district’s assessment? If teachers are evaluated based on their students’ performance on a standardized assessment, doesn’t that seem unfair?
Second point: we’ve got to find more effective ways to help teachers develop before we think about getting rid of them. Putting aside this economic downturn, all the reports I’ve read point to a continuing shortage of qualified teachers in California over the next decade.
Final point: TEACHING IS SO INCREDIBLY HARD!!! I have been teaching at the university level for over 10 years and had jobs related to teaching math for 28 years and so far this one year of teaching high school has been so incredibly difficult. I feel so inadequate all the time. A veteran teacher told me that the second year is easier than the first, but it’s not until the fifth year or so that one really starts to feel good about his/her teaching. How can we expect new teachers to be effective in their first two years of service?
The district’s new policy will focus on new teachers that get a “Needs Improvement” on one or more criteria on their evaluations. The way things have been going for me this year, I would definitely be one of those teachers that gets a “Needs Improvement.”