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What is a good teacher?

By Murray Bourne, 27 Jun 2005

There is an interesting section on Teacher Assessment and Teacher Development in Classroom Assessment Issues and Practice (see my summary review of the book).

There are several levels of accreditation that teachers in the US go through - and on the surface, a lot of it makes sense. At the national level, there are 5 Core Propositions (pp306, 307):

  1. Teachers are committed to students and their learning [sounds good]
  2. Teachers know the subjects they teach and how to teach those subjects to students [fine, so don't keep asking art teachers to run an algebra class]
  3. Teachers are responsible for managing and monitoring student learning [well put]
  4. Teachers think systematically about their practice and learn from experience [reflective learning]
  5. Teachers are members of learning communities [let's stop teaching everything in its own "box" - if teachers don;t know how it ll fits together, how can the students?]

For National Board Certification, teachers need to present evidence that they are meeting the above standards (p304):

  • A portfolio of classroom work and the work of their students
  • Videotapes of teaching
  • Analysis of classroom teaching and student learning from documented evidence
  • A two-day written assessment examining the teacher's subject matter knowledge and how to teach those subjects

This is just for accreditation - not for any sort of teaching award...

There is also mention that student evaluation of teaching is only a small part of teacher assessment, since the debate rages about whether secondary school students are mature enough to analyse classroom teaching. However, go ask a primary school student who the 'good' teachers are and they will be able to tell you - and why.

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