Teaching as a Profession

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Scholastic conducted a survey of teachers, asking about their working conditions. The Wall Street Journal reported the results recently: “The Scholastic project found that teachers are desperate for more support. Three kinds rose to the top: more involvement from parents, more engagement from school leaders and higher quality materials to use in the classroom.”
The study found that although most educators can identify excellent teachers, they cannot actually quantify the qualities that those teachers possess. The Gates Foundation has been working for several years to try to change that. They have been working with “more than 3,000 teachers on a large research project called “Measures of Effective Teaching, or MET. These teachers volunteered to have their classes videotaped and their lessons scored by experts, to have their students evaluate their teaching, to fill out surveys about the support they receive and to be assessed on their content knowledge.” They discovered that “ . . .teachers don’t like their no-support/low-expectations working conditions” The study aims to identify the characteristics that embody effective teachers, so that school districts can utilize those standards when hiring.
Both the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association have expressed willingness to rethink evaluation systems. The Gates are hopeful that once the research has been completed, educators can institute evaluations that will reward effective teachers and assist those in need of improvement. Providing effective evaluation tools and a process to implement improvement may end the “dance of the lemons.” *
*The practice of moving ineffective teachers from one school to another rather than firing them.

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