This afternoon I just listened to NPR’s broadcast of the American RadioWorks documentary on the impact of good and poor teachers on student performance. If you missed it, I highly recommend you read or listen to it.
If you think you’ve heard it all before, you’re wrong, even if you’re concerned about this stuff and involved.. And don’t make the mistake of tuning out the minute you hear something with which you agree or disagree. You’ll be surprised if you read or listen to the end.
Here is a link to policy reports and resources mentioned in the documentary.
HR consultant David Camner told me something I learned to be true. Approximately 20% of people in any line of work are ineffective and should be doing something else. That applies to any line of work including the professions including doctors and lawyers.
I believe that this documentary’s evidence on the effect of firing and/or putting greater resources into improving teachers shows that that this percentage also holds true for the teaching profession.
What do you do with the 20% of people who are ineffective in their line of work or profession? It isn’t easy. They are often pulling down good workers or just as bad, bleeding away management and training that should go to make the other 80% of good or excellent workers even better. Many companies, including school systems just move them around, usually through transfers to schools in low income areas.
One thing struck me while listening was the fact that, in a successful program covered in the documentary, mindset is critical. It is crucial that teachers take a no-excuses approach to full accountability for student performance.
There is also mention in the documentary, without attribution of Dr. Carol Dweck’s work. In reading her books, she isolated one critical factor in parents and teachers that is the difference between students who, all things being equal including IQ, either thrive when they hit obstacles and or give up.
Those who gave up, had parents and teachers who believed intelligence is finite. You either have it or you don’t. Those who thrived and grew regardless of obstacles had parents and teachers who believed intelligence is infinite.
Many thanks to the Spencer Foundation for underwriting the documentary.