December 3, 2008

Appraising Teachers

A gracious and wise woman recently said "teaching is as much of an art as a science, and how do you measure art?"

Well, I suppose we could follow the lead of the art world* and hold auctions, sending teachers off to work for the highest bidder. Schools and communities that value specific traits in their educators would concentrate their money on building a collection, for example a staff of disciplinarians drilling facts and dates, or motivational gurus pumping up test-taking abilities, or grandmotherly types praising Mikey's creative side while he licks glue off his hand...

Ah, but we're going nation-wide here with NCLB and all that, so no one is able to agree not only on what makes a good teacher** but what schools are for in the first place.

Teaching is an art. Great teachers are artists. But that doesn't preclude teachers from the quality performance rubric, they still must be evaluated and deemed worthy of caring for and shaping and helping to build our children into adults. We use "artist" as one of the highest compliments; one can elevate a skill or talent in any field to an art -- an auto mechanic, the weekend barbecue-er, wide receivers and batting champions, even some scientist cultivating genomes in a lab somewhere has heard from a colleague "Man, the way you handle those beakers, you are a true artist!"

Great teaching is an art, and great teachers need to be paid commensurate with their talents and value to society, which is almost immeasurable -- how many children did Terrell Owens*** have a life-long effect on today? Good teachers working hard to become great deserved the support and time and money to hone their craft...

oops, gotta go! to be cont'd...?

*I could have used livestock auctions as an example, but the metaphor breaks down when we get into the whole animal husbandry aspect, doesn't it...
**2nd un-used simile of the post: good teaching is like pornography, I know it when I see it? Didn't a Supreme Justice say that once?
***link does NOT go to anything T.O. related, but to an amazing student-athlete -- can you say 1st round draft choice neurosurgeon?

1 comment:

Bonnie said...

The quality of your "bad" blog could never be questioned after this post! You hit the nail on the head with the pornography reference. I do know good teaching when I see it, and I've been trying to emulate it for years now in the classroom. I've even had moments of brilliance myself...but it's not easy. sigh.