Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Why are our students behind? part 2

The first reason was probably the least significant. In fact I'd say it's more of an excuse. Especially after reading this article. Which leads to reason...

NUMBER TWO: Apparently our students are behind as soon as they begin. We are playing catch up. In the above article there were studies comparing individual states with each other and trying to take diversity and wealth into consideration. Our top state at the time, Massachusetts, still fell short compared to other countries.

 In my school district foreign languages are being introduced in first grade now. Great! And it looks like they are trying to get more math and reading started earlier. But our teachers need to gain more knowledge to spread more knowledge. The requirements are going up, but we are still behind because the rest of the world is always a step ahead.

NUMBER THREE: Attitudes. If parents complain about teachers and homework, the kids will do the same. Respect is a key component of education and it's dwindling. Teachers and education don't seem to be valued enough. "Why do we have to learn this stuff?" "Don't those teachers know we have busy schedules?" "How can they treat my kid this way?" "Why can't I use my ipod?"

It's a shame when some parents can't or won't put in the time and effort it takes to make their kids study and work and go farther. Kids who lack attention at home seek it at school. And at the other end of the spectrum I've seen a trend where kids are pampered and feel entitled. Self esteem is important, but they need to make mistakes to figure things out. You can't do everything for them.

I believe the majority of parents care and want their kids to succeed. Looking at these survey results gives me mixed emotions. To sum it up: Parents will pay for improvements and better teachers that are paid according to performance and wouldn't mind if their kids became teachers. Great. But how do you rate a good teacher? Not with test scores or grades. New teachers are usually given more challenging classes. You can't force students to succeed. There's only so much a teacher can do. How do you judge how hard a teacher is trying and how much they care about their students? I wouldn't mind being graded by my students - as long as they didn't know they could affect my pay! (revenge!)

Kids are a reflection of their parents. Famous Mom Curse: "I hope your kids are just like YOU!"


Theresa Milstein said...

I teach in Massachusetts too, so I feel these frustrations. I had a student who was whiney and a bit disrespectful. I spoke to the parent who acted just like her daughter!

Rating teachers is nearly impossible. Did you read Malcolm Gladwell's chapter on interviewing in What the Dog Saw? It says you can tell a good teacher within seconds of watching them teach. But we're evaluated based on limited paper results for the most part.

Tara Tyler said...

Thanks for the comments, Theresa. Most of my evals were fine, but My Worst Evaluation: lower level 9th grade math and we were reviewing for a test - the evaluator almost fell asleep in the back! I was PO'd! Can I rate my evaluator!?
ps - I grew up in MA for my youngest years =)

Razib Ahmed said...

It is important to ensure that teachers get their due respect. After all, teaching is a low paying job in almost every country and it is the respect that attracts many talented graduates to become teachers. Thanks for writing about an important problem.

Tara Tyler said...

Appreciate your thoughts Razib =)