New York Times: Building a Better Teacher
But what makes a good teacher? There have been many quests for the one essential trait, and they have all come up empty-handed. Among the factors that do not predict whether a teacher will succeed: a graduate-school degree, a high score on the SAT, an extroverted personality, politeness, confidence, warmth, enthusiasm and having passed the teacher-certification exam on the first try. When Bill Gates announced recently that his foundation was investing millions in a project to improve teaching quality in the United States, he added a rueful caveat. “Unfortunately, it seems the field doesn’t have a clear view of what characterizes good teaching,” Gates said. “I’m personally very curious.” …
[Lemov] called a wedding videographer he knew through a friend and asked him if he’d like to tag along on some school visits. Their first trip to North Star Academy, a charter school in Newark, turned into a five-year project to record teachers across the country. At first, Lemov financed the trip out of his consulting budget; later, Uncommon Schools paid for it. The odyssey produced a 357-page treatise known among its hundreds of underground fans as Lemov’s Taxonomy. (The official title, attached to a book version being released in April, is “Teach Like a Champion: The 49 Techniques That Put Students on the Path to College.”)
Fascinating, in-depth Times article about the asking the question: how do you train teachers to be really great? The article examines a few approaches ranging from financial incentives (pay for performance) to abstract teaching skills (Lemov’s taxonomy, cited above), to content-based, free-form observation.
The piece cites Newark’s own North Star Academy and highlights the work if Teach for America, which also operates here in the city. But, as with many-things-Newark, how we address the question of how we think of schools in our urban centers has the potential to shape our nation and our ever-shrinking world.
Highly recommended read.