“Teacher Quality” – We need to get off the soft stuff

This blog has been reserved for positive coverage of critical issues.  Today I must depart from the positive and go negative, briefly.

In an article in this month’s Kappan, Linda Lehman opines on “[t]he most important qualities for teachers….empathy, a work ethic, and a genuine fondness for students.”

Okay – who would argue that teachers must be empathetic, hard workers and care for children?  No one should argue with this, and I certainly don’t.  But these are prerequisites for the field, or simply the price of admission into teaching.  I don’t know Lehman, and I certainly don’t doubt that she is a well-meaning teacher of teachers at her college in Ohio.  However, her article is yet another example of higher education teacher preparation and a well-respected journal expounding on soft, baseline, no-real-value-added concepts.  Can we just assume we aren’t allowing any more people into teaching or even teacher colleges who don’t demonstrate work ethic and a “genuine fondness for students”? eeegads!!!

This juxtaposed by my observation of the Distinctive Schools network of teachers yesterday conducting their city-wide professional development (after a long day of work with their kids).  As a baseline, they each care about kids and hard work.  They were engaged in how to infuse more rigor and heavy lifting in their academics, moving to more relevant treatment of the work in the core and co-curricular activities, using assessment data more effectively, etc.  Not once would any observer like myself wonder whether these teachers care about students and hard work.

I think more and more we had better disrupt all the traditional work in PreK-12.  Come on higher ed.  Lead us to the real winning strategies for kids and classrooms.  Continual blinding flashes of the obvious isn’t helping us.  I suppose it is helping some college professors get in their publishing requirements for tenure.  We need your real help out here in field!

Sorry for the negative energy on this one, but….well enough said.

Have a great day!

JW

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