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Would You Teach There?

Posted November 22, 2010 2:00 PM by Steve Melito

"Those who can't do, teach." It's an ugly saying to the ears of an educator, and older than those high school textbooks that say Pluto is a planet. All professions have their critics, of course, but some states continue to train more teachers than there are job openings. That's the case in Pennsylvania, where 93 colleges and universities offer teacher training programs – and there was only one applicant for a physics position in Pittsburgh.

According to the school district, only half of the 1300 applicants for teaching positions even met the minimum criteria. As school superintendent Mark Roosevelt explains, the city's Science and Technology Academy had to reject candidates with "phenomenal" science backgrounds simply because they weren't certified. But now Pennsylvania is allowing Pittsburgh to take another approach.

Pittsburgh's new on-the-job teacher certification program will cost $2.7 million and train 30 to 50 teachers a year through November 1, 2013. Part of the effort will be on attracting "second-career" teachers for hard-to-fill jobs in math and science.

If your community's traditional teacher certification requirements were waived, would you teach there?

Source: post-gazette.com

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#1

Re: Would You Teach There?

11/22/2010 8:30 AM

I highly recommend that before anyone considers a move to the classroom that he or she spend some time shadowing what a contemporary teacher does and what his or her responsibilities are in contemporary education. A lot has changed in the past ten years in American education, and while I do believe that professional individuals might have a lot to offer, there may be some surprise and misconception about the rigors and responsibilities of a teaching position.

I do understand that parents have more insight to their local schools than most non-parents, but even the most active parents in a school community (at least the ones that I have been involved with) are not aware of the daily responsibilities of the position. That is, of course, unless the parent is also a teacher, particularly within the district. It goes without saying, I would think, that different districts have different demands on their educators.

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#5
In reply to #1

Re: Would You Teach There?

11/23/2010 6:01 PM

Good observations. I've noticed that everyone else's job always seems easier than my own.

The hardest part of teaching must be the difference between students. Imagine keeping control in a class that contains some stupid, uninterested and hormonally challenged kids (who haven't been taught good social skills at home) and some smart, highly motivated kids.

Of course, it would be easier if the kids were graded into different streams, but then the parents would complain that their little darlings' self esteemn was being damaged. Ffej

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#2

Re: Would You Teach There?

11/23/2010 7:27 AM

Before I took my last job, I seriously looked into teaching at our local high school. I actually went so far as to apply for a couple positions where it looked like they wouldn't be able to find any candidates with a certificate. Unfortunately, a candidate with a certificate (but not in the subject area) applied, thus eliminating my opportunity for emergency certificate. I support eliminating some of the barriers to teach as some of it seems like protection for the teachers' union.

That being said, just because someone is brilliant (not implying that I am) doesn't mean they can teach. I think most would agree with me. Along the same lines though, there are many who are brilliant who would make excellent teachers. I fear that unless the compensation is changed to a system that pays for performance, there is little incentive for people to leave their professional fields to reinvest in our childrens' education. This is a commitment that America would have to make, because as taxpayers we would be paying for this additional compensation. I personally think it is worth it, but I wouldn't campaign on the concept.

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#3
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Re: Would You Teach There?

11/23/2010 7:38 AM

I agree that intelligence and education, while necessary, does not alone a good teacher make. The problem with pay for performance is how one measures performance. Currently working on a CAS and in one of the classes we are struggling with that same concept. How does one judge teacher performance?

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#4

Re: Would You Teach There?

11/23/2010 10:09 AM

I got my MBA specifically so that I could teach.

But I am not sure that anyone can teach adolescents at the peak of their hormonal production.

I prefer to teach Adults, especially in Grad school.

Would I teach in a high school situation. I would, but I would find teaching real science to gifted and talented (and anyone else) kids outside the classroom would be a better yield in terms of understanding what the heck Science really is.

Our local highschool carpeted all the science classrooms/laboratories. So do you think they will ever use chemicals that might require an emergency pull of the safety shower???

The problem is as much the bureaucrats in charge knowing nothing about Science as it is about shortage of teachers...

Milo

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#6
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Re: Would You Teach There?

11/23/2010 6:29 PM

I would like to see more of the 'ancient system' return, where the people who are nearing the end of their 'commercial role', become teachers.

I find 'young teachers' are good at repeating 'standard texts'. Some are good at relating to 'near peers', others worse than 'grumpy old men'.

But neither 'good' is much use in higher career targeted education, particularly if they have never been 'outside school', never had to apply the 'knowledge', don't really know what it's for, or why the student 'needs to know it'.

And as ever the "understanding of the bureaucracy" of anything technical, makes me cringe.

As it did again this very day;

Not just a US 'problem'

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#11
In reply to #4

Re: Would You Teach There?

11/24/2010 7:21 AM

Good points, Milo. And these are why, even though I've been told by numerous teachers I volunteer with, that I should consider teaching the sciences in school, I've never been all that attracted to it. The students I tutor and work along side, are the ones that are already motivated to DO science (as opposed to just getting it out of the books), and we don't DO science in the school lab, despite the fact that I have a key to the lab and the school doors. Instead, we cobble up our experiments in the real world, and have a ball doing it.

It does leave a lot of ugly stains on the ground sometimes, though. Or ragged holes.

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#13
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Re: Would You Teach There?

11/24/2010 10:37 AM

Being that I work with kids from 14-18, I will agree that it is easier to teach adults and motivated students. Unfortunately, that is not the only aspect of the job. Reaching the kids that are hard to reach, those who have home lives that are utter turmoil or are crushed with learning disabilities, are also parts of the job.

It is important to remember this when the concept of merit based pay comes up in relation to student test scores. I teach everything from skills level through UHS (collegiate) level. Those who generally teach skills do so because they can connect with hard to reach kids and get them to buy in to their style and system. You MUST have a passion for at-risk students. I spend more time in preparation for the skills course than with my collegiate and mainstream courses put together. That effort and work is not reflected in their grades, by numerical comparison.

If teaching was just about instructing the motivated, I feel like it would be very much like CR4. People come here because they want to learn or share what they know. The toughest students in school are ones that are there because someone or something is forcing them to attend. While we could debate the merit of a system like that for a long time, the question here was whether or not you would teach where you live.

And to answer that, you have to be willing to accept that would mean teaching the most highly and the least motivated students in the building.

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#14
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Re: Would You Teach There?

11/24/2010 11:01 AM

As teaching appears to be your primary occupation, your points regarding your situation are insightful and poignant.

As an adjunct, I have the luxury of motivated students who self selected to be in my class.

You clearly do not have this luxury.

But as I was one of those difficult to reach students back in the day. I'm not sure anyone reached me, but they kept me in the system until I was able to get my Bachelors degree.

At age 30, I went back and mastered the math that had been my principal principle Oh hell maiin obstacle, and then kept adding statistical and quality assurance coursework as I could.

MBA in my mid '50's.

So your point about reaching the unreachable is key. How do we rate teacher merit in the situation that you describe? Well, that is a great question and probably one worthy of its own blog thread. I will continueto think about that, because what I am getting from motivated self selected opt in adults sure the heck isn't what you'd expect with students there solely because of legal compulsion.

Why don't you start another thread about measuring merit in diverse student classrooms?

Milo

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#16
In reply to #14

Re: Would You Teach There?

11/24/2010 12:16 PM

Well, there is also the question about people who are "book" learners, versus "hands-on" learners. My nephew, my middle son, and I, all scored very high in "IQ" tests, but all of us were mediocre students. All of us excelled as adults at "learning by doing", mostly without benefit of a teacher (my nephew and I have attended adult education courses to learn specifics). My eldest son took little math in High School, and did poorly, but he designs and builds houses now, having learned the necessary 3-D geometry on the job. Several of my other nephews are clearly the kind who learn by doing.

So my question to both of you is this:

How do you measure the "Teacher Effectiveness" of a teacher who is constrained to teach the book, even if that teacher has experience in the subject, and takes students "into the field" to teach it. The books, and the tests derived/developed from those books mitigate against the "learn by doing" student, and thus, against the efficiency rating of that student's teachers. And our system is clearly NOT consistent with teaching anyone by the "Apprentice/Journeyman/Master" development cycle of learning.

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#7

Re: Would You Teach There?

11/23/2010 9:16 PM

Teaching is an art. Everybody cannot teach.

A highly knowledgeable person need not be a good teacher.

Rajan

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#8
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Re: Would You Teach There?

11/24/2010 12:32 AM

When I qualified to teach, they had absolutely no interest in the 'knowledge level' of the candidates. I fact they viewed 'expertise' and 'experience' as an impediment to 'learning the academic hoops'.

True to a point.

It was remarkably amusing seeing people pass the hoops, 'teaching' a completely incompetent and erroneous version of the 'subject' they elected to teach.

It was equally amusing to witness the 'knowledge competent' applauded by fellow students, for imparting clear understanding on a topic; then see them 'down graded' for using 'only the appropriate hoop' or two, though clearly, they not only had the knowledge, but succeed in imparting it with great success.

So yes; "Teaching is an art. Everybody cannot teach" and I'd add; even among those who teach teaching.

And conversely; A good teacher needs to be a knowledgeable person.

But if you want 'excellent educators' - why not start with highly knowledgeable people, who have been 'educating and training' their employees for decades?

All you really need to do is teach them the new jargon for the steps they have long been using, and how to fill in the BS paperwork.

However, a major stumbling block in educational institutions, is fear by 'career academics', of greater talent, knowledge and experience entering the game - as it can and does impact their rate of promotion.

Many on CR4 are, or could be, 'excellent educators' - can/could easily pick up the teaching qualification - but never be let in the door.

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#12
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Re: Would You Teach There?

11/24/2010 9:26 AM

Many folks on CR4 are actually teaching. I think that that is a key factor of the "democratization of the Web." You don't always have to go to an institution to get the knowledge.

The credential, yes, but the knowledge you seek, No.

One of the reasons I blog is for "Knowledge retention." I want to be sure that the stuff I know and take for granted makes the cut into the electronic realm.

In 5o years or so ( the apparent limit of paper's routine usefulness in my experience) the out of print books with the stuff that I practice will be pretty much lost.

We think we are living in an information age. Actually, the books that those of us over 50 learned from will be mostly lost, and we will be considered by history to have lived in the last "Dark Age."

So my blogging is my "Project Gutenberg" for Metallurgy.

Milo

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#15
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Re: Would You Teach There?

11/24/2010 12:06 PM

And do you actually have a blog on Metallurgy? Or just what you post on CR4? I'd very much like to read a comprehensive study on the practical aspects of the subject, particularly as an applied science. I collect knives, and use them often, so a good understanding of metallurgy is a critical need for me.

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Re: Would You Teach There?

11/24/2010 1:38 PM

My "real blog" is http://pmpaspeakingofprecision.com

I identify a lot of concepts/a lot of tags and so you can use the search box on my blog and probably find what you are looking for.We post selected posts here on CR4 to get other practitioners insights and to make it available to a wider audience. there are over 200 posts (more on that later).

Thanks for your interest and feel free to email me if you have a particular question.

Milo

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#19
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Re: Would You Teach There?

11/24/2010 10:47 PM

Thank you. I'll read it all, and post you my questions. I'm pretty sure I'll have some.

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#9

Re: Would You Teach There?

11/24/2010 7:10 AM

FYI The full quotation is 'those who can't do teach, those who can't teach teach physical education'.

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Re: Would You Teach There?

11/24/2010 7:16 AM

Without benefit of reading any of the other doubtless thoughtful replies, mine would be "in a heartbeat". I love to tutor, and have 40 years of experience in applied science, but no degree of any kind (too busy "getting on with life", I guess). I've taken a total of around 40 under-grad and grad-school courses, but in many different fields, to gain skills I needed at the time. Just never finished a degree program because I kept needing to go back to work. Or continue to work.

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#18

Re: Would You Teach There?

11/24/2010 4:08 PM

I decided to become an instructor at a community college a couple years ago, hated it! They offered dual credit courses to high school students, which happened to be students needing credits to graduate high school, learning disablities, etc. Would have failed most of them, but wasn't allowed to, because they needed a passing grade to graduate high school. Believe it or not, some couldn't read!! They had been routinely passed all their school years.

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#20

Re: Would You Teach There?

11/25/2010 12:16 AM

Two puzzlements:

What are the specific goals of education?

What knowledge and capabilities should an educated person posses?

I'll bet most teachers, supervisors, administrators, politicians, parents, etc., have different answers.

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Re: Would You Teach There?

12/12/2010 8:08 PM

How to get to school and how to get home from school and do things on time light up in me as part of what an education is. Still that's not really enough for we are supposed to know when to play, and when to work, and how to use tools.

Reading, Writing and Arithmetic stand up pretty well as mental capabilities for the basically educated person.

Over and over I read that students can't read. When I was a kid making money delivering newspapers I spent my money on clothes, food, and books.

Often enough the books were Comic Books which were available at the store. Gentry's was the name of "The Store" in the little town I lived in. -Oh the boredom and loneliness of my youth that was only alleviated by books.

Round where I live now a kid can't even buy a knife till they are 18. And what do we get from this sort of confluence of forces, laws, and technologies but a bunch of children staring at phones and asking for advice from anybody but themselves incapable of keeping their pants up?

Them Comic Books were good things for at least they told stories of heroes. Ask a youth who their hero is and they likely have none these days, least as far as I can tell.

P.S. Not all, and I guess what I really see as a problem is that kids can't, or don't love reading which is a foundation for greater educational achievements.

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