Saturday, June 2, 2012

Teaching: Quality vs Quantity

I get that quality teachers are a must but, what the anti-teacher people fail to get is that quality is something that takes time to develop. 

Teaching is a job that requires on-the-job training, not university learning; it requires mentoring and patience. 

Teaching is not the same as a corporate job where skills can be acquired within the 90-day probation window. 

Teaching is one job where the clientele is forever changing from one period to the next and one year to the next. 

Students do not come in a one-size-fits-all package. As a teacher, that takes time to learn and acquire skills to handle. On average, it takes 3-5 years for a teacher to become really effective (yes, some perform faster than the average but they are not all). Unfortunately, however, the revolving door cycle of teaching is about three years. I know I wanted to leave after my first year of teaching. If I had been able to find another job, I would have left without looking back. 

When I got surplussed after three years (budgeting axe fell hard on education), my learning curve was reset-- I was at a higher pressure school, dealing w/ a new grading system, a different level of parent (over)involvement, a new (non-supportive, micro-managing) principal and more advanced classes (advanced placement and honors) than I had the responsibility of teaching at my first school (elective courses). Finally, after my fourth year in the new school, I got it. I may not love teaching but I've become more comfortable with it. But I had the time to get there (though, I'm still trying to leave). Now, newer teachers don't have that necessary time to develop quality because, according to the new law, job uncertainty is a year-to-year thing. Plus, if there is a tenured-surplussed teacher floating in the wind, the job would have to go to that tenured teacher. I've lost a few teacher friends to other fields because waiting until the week before school began to see if they had a job each year was too stressful to handle. 

Teacher quality, though important, certainly doesn't matter because, according to the FCAT and school grading system, it's all about quantity. 

And, I won't even get into the pay because that's a whole other can of worms.

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