Friday, March 5, 2010

Can teachers be trained?

My wife showed me a great article from the New York Times called Building a Better Teacher. The article looks at some attempts to figure out what knowledge and skills are important to teachers, and, more importantly, how to teach that knowledge and those skills to teachers.

The good news is that some people are having success both in terms of determining the required skills and knowledge and also in the teaching of those. Unfortunately, the list of skills is not short. One teaching taxonomy mentioned in the article contains 49 points. It is hard enough getting most teachers I know to think about one new thing. Trying to get them to think about 49 potentially new things is going to be close to impossible. Now, once a teacher looks carefully at the list, he or she is going to immediately see a lot of points and say "Oh, I do that!". The problem is getting a teacher, who is already busy and usually feels overworked and under appreciated, to even look at the 49 point list in the first place.

Still, it is good news to me that people are getting a handle on the skills and knowledge that are truly, provably relevant to teaching.

I will probably buy the book with the 49 point list, called Teach Like a Champion by Doug Lemov. If it's good, I'll be sure to post about it.