Teaching 2030: an important book on teaching by teachers

Kenneth J. Bernstein – In all of the public discourse of what we need to do to fix public schools and educate our young people for the future, one set of voices has until now been conspicuously absent. It is the voices of teachers.

Berry, Barnett, and the Teacher Solutions Team (2011). Teaching 2030: What We Must Do for Our Students and Our Public Schools — Now and in the Future.

This new book, put together under the auspices of the Center for Teaching Quality established by lead author Barnett Berry, and with generous funding from the MetLife Foundation, is an important attempt to include the voices of teachers in helping frame the discussion of how we address our educational needsThose of us in classrooms, unless we choose to be oblivious, recognize that our profession needs to be redefined. We lose too many good teachers from classrooms because too often the only path for professional and financial advancement is through administration. In the meantime, we see the students arriving in our classrooms changing as society changes. Often we are prevented from changing what we do in order to meet them where they are. We know this has to change.

This book is the product of an extensive discussion among professional educators. Much of it was conducted online. The final product list 12 authors besides Berry, all themselves notable classroom teachers. They are the ones who sat down with him to put together the book as we have it. But that final product also included material offered by others in online discussions through the various arms of the Center for Teaching Quality, especially its Teacher Leaders Network, of which I am member. Thus while I was not part of the actual author group, I appear 3 times in the work. I do not think that disqualifies me from examining the work and encouraging others to read it.

The teachers participating in this endeavor collective bring a diverse set of experiences to it. Renee Moore taught English high school students in the Mississippi Delta, where she now teaches at a community college. Ariel Sacks and Jose Vilson teach in New York City middle schools. Laurie Wasserman has almost 30 years as a teacher of special education. After a distinguished career in a classroom, Shannon C’de Baca has spent a number of years doing online education. Jennifer Barnett now functions as school-based technology integration specialist in rural Alabama. Kilian Betlach is a Teach for America alumnus who was well-known as a blogger and is now an elementary school assistant principal. Carrie Kamm is a mentor-resident coach for an urban teacher residency program in Chicago. Among these and others in authoring group are winners of State Teacher of the Year (including one finalist for National Teacher of the Year), Milken award winners, Lilly Award winners, and so on. All have experience in trying to improve the teaching profession beyond the reach of their own classrooms. One finds a similar range of diversity and an equal amount of accomplishment in the 33 teachers who are also thanked for their contributions in the online discussions in which we took part.

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2011/2/5/941407/-Teaching-2030:an-important-book-on-teaching-by-teachers

Comments


  1. Joe Nathan

    Ken – don't teacher unions present "the voice of teachers"? Of course they do. Teachers fund the unions, teachers elect other teachers to represent them.

    I hear this idea regularly from you and a number of others that "In all of the public discourse of what we need to do to fix public schools and educate our young people for the future, one set of voices has until now been conspicuously absent. It is the voices of teachers. "

    Regardless of what you think of others (and you've been very critical of many others, as is your right), I don't think is accurate to say that the voices of teachers have been absent. The teachers voices via their unions are very actively presented.


  2. Concerned Teacher

    Joe, I disagree with you. Teachers are absent from virtually all groups that are convened to study public education, to critique policy, to recommend new policy, and so on.

    Equally obvious is the absence of persons with teaching expertise from "panels of experts" that are presented by the media and others.

    Today's "experts" on education are often folks who have strong credentials in some area; perhaps they are economists (often) or they are CEOs, however they are rarely folks who have spent time in public schools with public school children and teachers.

    Teachers' voices are heard locally in the "adult interests" issues. We are criticized for having "adult interests," though I don't hear argument when Goldman Sachs' behavior drives up commodity prices for all of us in pursuit of their adult interest: profit.

    Teaching and learning are complex and nuanced. There are numerous factors that influence learning in an individual and only some of those factors are under direct control of a teacher.

    Indeed, various researchers have suggested that the percentage of the learning process a teacher has any control over may range (according to my reading) from as low as about 18% up to perhaps 30%. But does everyone learn in the same way? Does one size fit all?

    Have you ever tried to learn anything that is considered difficult? I once took a group ski class with a friend. I loved the class and found the instructor to be superior. I completed the day more confident and in better control. My friend, whose skiing skills were very similar to mine, hated the class and found the instruction to be useless to her. She couldn't make head or tail out of what was presented. Was the instruction "bad?" She thought so, I did not.

    This is anecdotal, but it is one example. We simply cannot create a single model that proves to be excellent for everyone. Individuals differ along tens of dimensions, most of which are subtle.

    Our politicians have targeted public school teachers for a number of social problems that exist in this nation, and that may well be increasingly obvious as we have had millions of illegal immigrants cross our border and enroll their children into our schools, and as our economy tanks and more families are in distress, etc.

    Our schools, established to deliver fundamental academic instruction, are taxed and are not equipped to deal with the continuum of challenges faced today by many in our society. But, our public schools and teachers are a cheap and convenient target for circumstances over which they have no control.

    There is an agenda in this country to destroy all unions, and the teacher's unions are two of the largest. We have been maligned over and over again. When we destroy the unions, we will lose a valuable viewpoint in our public discourse and our nation will suffer. We seek to destroy unions to advance business interests, which are chiefly profit. Education does not operate on this model and children are not widgets.

    Absolutely, we (teacher's unions) advance an agenda of adult interests on behalf of our dues paying members, and we should just as much as Wall Street should keep on making money.

    However, we, as a group, focus plenty of attention upon student interests, and this is more than clear to anyone who takes the time to read our magazines.

    Our professional magazines do, and have for as long as I have read them, devote most of their space to issues that deal with student achievement, instruction, etc.

    To invite teachers and teachers' union into policy making groups is to invite the "enemy." So, we find ourselves continually having to respond, after the fact, to a number of ill-conceived ideas, that corporate CEOs and economists put forth disguised as public education reforms.

    We told everyone, when NCLB passed, that the law would narrow the curriculum and create classroom circumstances where teachers felt forced to place teaching to the test above educating youth.

    Using multiple choice tests as the gold standard to measure student learning and teacher effectiveness is stunningly naive, but when the teachers spoke out, we were accused of "blocking reform."

    However, learning and eventual success in life, maintaining a healthy climate of research, innovation and development in this nation is not something we can quantify in a single test.

    The Asian countries have maintained these kinds of educational systems for years and they have become rightly concerned and are backing away from the teach/test mentality as we move toward it.

    For the sake of our nation, we MUST resist the temptation to distill education into a number that is used to judge both teachers and learners. Our future depends upon this.

    Teachers have been shouting this message, but we are dismissed by the media as troublemakers and reform blockers.

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February 5th, 2011

Staff Reporter EducationNews.org

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