Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Redirecting the Teaching Profession in the Wake of A Nation at Risk and NCLB: A Nation at Risk Sounded the Call for School Improvement and Offered Recommendations for Bringing It about. No Child Left Behind Was Even More Prescriptive in Its Approach to Raising Student Achievement. but, Mr. Seed Points out, for All Their Recommendations and Strategies, Both Reform Efforts Neglect the Essential Conditions for Improving Teaching

Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Redirecting the Teaching Profession in the Wake of A Nation at Risk and NCLB: A Nation at Risk Sounded the Call for School Improvement and Offered Recommendations for Bringing It about. No Child Left Behind Was Even More Prescriptive in Its Approach to Raising Student Achievement. but, Mr. Seed Points out, for All Their Recommendations and Strategies, Both Reform Efforts Neglect the Essential Conditions for Improving Teaching

Article excerpt

EVER WONDER what life in the classroom of the future might be like for teachers? I offer below two very different scenarios. Which school and classroom would you like to teach-in?

That's one possible vision of our future. But here's another scenario for your consideration.

Doesn't it seem ironic that the scenario most educators would associate with A Nation at Risk and No Child Left Behind is the first of these? Doesn't that first scenario seem to be right in line with the idea of "a rising tide of mediocrity"? While I'll admit that that first scenario is an exaggeration, since the publication of A Nation at Risk in 1983, I've visited over a hundred schools in four states and talked to nearly 1,000 teachers, and I know that in far too many schools it is not that far off the mark. Moreover, since the advent of No Child Left Behind, which can trace its ancestry to A Nation at Risk, that first scenario seems to be drawing ever closer to reality.

What must happen to make the second scenario the norm, rather than the exception? I would like to offer some recommendations for the kinds of conditions teachers need if they are to perform at their peak, as in the second scenario, along with some action steps that teachers can take to earn those conditions.

FIVE CONDITIONS FOR IMPROVING TEACHING

Andy Hargreaves put it well: "If we want high-level, deep learning for students, we have to have highly skilled and intellectually able teachers. That means attracting, developing, and retaining teachers who have those qualities and giving them working conditions that inspire them and offer them a chance to soar." (1) Both A Nation at Risk and No Child Left Behind recognize the critical importance of teachers to the success of our schools, but their approaches to developing a strong teaching force do not mesh well with what we know about good teaching, what makes people want to become teachers, and why they stay.

Collaboration. Providing opportunities to collaborate is an essential condition for improving teaching. (2) Through collaboration, teachers form a learning community that establishes its own goals, manages its own resources, shares shortcomings, respects each member, and constructively criticizes practice. (3) Collaboration helps to minimize the disconcerting and persistent isolation that teachers experience, and it can foster a sense of ownership of the process of school improvement. Meetings to discuss planning and implementation and to review instruction and curriculum should be held frequently as a means to foster collaboration.

Empowerment. Empowering teachers is another necessary condition for improving teaching. Empowered teachers are able to make decisions about curriculum, instruction, assessment, and scheduling. Teachers who are empowered become involved in such activities as hiring staff, determining budget priorities, planning professional development activities, and evaluating teaching. (4) In order to survive and thrive in the current high-stakes school climate, empowered teachers assume such roles as team leader, action researcher, curriculum developer, and in-house trainer. As a result of their own involvement in a school's decision-making process, empowered teachers assume more responsibility, have improved morale, and generate better solutions to the problems they encounter. (5)

Reflection. A third condition necessary for improving teaching is reflection. Reflecting on life in school enables teachers to carefully consider their current practice and to envision new and innovative approaches to assessment, curriculum, and instruction. Reflective practice begins with the belief that one's own efforts are worthwhile and moves on to a careful examination of one's own actions and thought processes. Shared reflections promote empathy, enhance regard for the moral and ethical considerations of a community, and create a positive school climate. (6)

Time. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.