Why a Lot of Teachers Quit – a commenter at Diane Ravitch

Teacher: Why I am Leaving Teaching

by dianerav

I recall many discussions in the rightwing think tanks to which I once belonged about how the schools and the teaching profession would be elevated if we could only judge teachers by the performance of their students and fire the lowest performing teachers every year. I recall asking, “where will the new teachers come from?” My colleagues said there would never be a shortage because there are so many people who prepared to be teachers but never entered the classroom. They would rush to fill the newly available jobs. What they never considered was the possibility that their brilliant theory was wrong. That judging teachers by the test scores of their students was unreliable and invalid; that doing so would drive out many find teachers and make teaching an undesirable profession; would indeed wipe out professionalism itself.

From a comment on the blog:

 

50% of evaluation based on end of course testing is so demotivating and humiliating that I am definitely getting out of teaching asap. Two years of bad test scores means suspension and potential loss of license. Seventy hour work weeks, failing technology, rotating cast of half my class load with various medical conditions that impede cognitive function. Adaptable, hard working, using differentiated learning and hands on learning/multimodal approaches does not mean jack now. Teachers are not able to control the tests, cannot develop multiple means for students to demonstrate mastery. So half my well meaning students will christmas tree their end of course test and my own family will suffer the consequences when I lose my job. Bleaker future than the past five with consistent pay cuts and benefits cut. Furloughs are a yearly experience now. I am very well educated and a top graduate in my field and hold multiple degrees so the stereotype of the poorly educated teacher without options or abilities does not fit. It doesn’t fit for the majority of teachers I know.


But if I stay in teaching now, I will be an idiot.

This evaluation system is the last straw. I cajoled PTA parents to put pressure on our district to stop this eval system. There are several well respected anchor teachers who are now making tracks to change fields. What a waste. New administration is in love with drill and kill, parents are blinded by smoke and mirrors of test scores as a metric of anything.
Thank you for letting me vent. I am planning on how nice it will be to have sundays off, no longer haul 25lbs of paperwork home, have money in the bank in a different career. No profession gets treated collectively so poorly these days.
I will miss the students but I will not miss being treated like an ignorant fool by thisevaluation nightmare.

Published in: on October 23, 2013 at 2:00 pm  Comments (7)  
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Can’t import the “Finnish approach” – cultural roots

A ‘guest post’ via Jerry Becker:

” Received from Stefan Turnau, Sunday, January 2, 2011 in response to the posting on “Shanghai Schools’ Approach Pushes Students to Top of Tests” on January 1st, 2011. You might want to take a look at http://www.teachers.tv/videos/the-human-factor where what follows can be found plus a great deal more, due to Nigel Bispham who is a deputy head teacher from Cornwall who visits Finland to discover why the country scored so well on the international OECD PISA assessments.”

I’m afraid the “Finnish approach” can’t be exported wholesale to any other cultural context.
A by no means exhaustive list of aspects that make the Finnish approach work (in my short experience as a Brit who’s lived here in Helsinki for 7 years and has a daughter in primary education at the moment):
1. Finns have a deep and lasting respect for the teaching profession and education in general, people aspire to be teachers!
2. Parents respect the job teachers do and let them do it (they are not well paid but they enjoy high status). The government lets teachers get on with teaching,
3. Parents are reminded several times a year to come into the school anytime to observe lessons or any other part of the school day.
4. Teachers at all levels hold master’s degree qualifications in pedagogy and are left to get on with it without too many restrictions.
5. All facilities are in good repair and teaching aids are plentiful (with little damage from arson and vandalism because kids are generally protective of their schools and use the playground areas after school).
6. Active after school clubs from everything from art to athletics etc.
7. Short and sweet school days (e.g. 8-9 year olds 9 till 1/2pm).
8. Small class sizes (20-25).
9. Many kids have an early sense of self reliance from looking after themselves in the afternoons.
10. Kids here also get to roam free, expend a lot of energy, climb trees and skin their knees.
11. And so on….. 

I think I can sum it up by relating a somewhat minor bugbear I do have with the Finnish Ed System and it is that my daughter’s favourite expression is “Teacher says….xyz!” to put her parents right!

I think if you ask any Finnish school kid who the 10-15 most important people are in their lives, there is a good chance that their teacher will figure in there for many? How about in the UK, top 100?

I think the things that CAN be imported are ideas that allow a refocusing away from testing and performance by giving teachers more autonomy, a focus on quality rather then quantity of teaching, higher level academic teacher training qualifications, improving the status of teaching as a profession.
I’m afraid the “Chinese approach”, very different but equally successful, cannot be imported for the same reason.

Why does no-one mention Finland?

Here is a table that gives the latest PISA results in science, reading, and math.

The NYT highlighted Shanghai, Macao, and Hong Kong, individual cities within China. A number of people have pointed out that Shanghai, in particular, probably attracts some of the brightest students within China.  I don’t think there is any way that American students would tolerate the extremely long hours and hard work that Chinese students put in.

Notice that I highlighted Finland.  Finland used to score at extremely low levels on international tests like this, but has risen dramatically in the past few decades. But NOT by using any of the methods currently popular among the US Educational Deform movement. Instead, they do just about the opposite. See my previous blogs on that.

Why Does EVERYBODY need to learn Advanced Algebra?

An interesting article by Dennis Redovich:

http://www.ednews.org/articles/294-what-is-the-rationale-for-requiring-higher-mathematics-proficiency-for-all-k-12-students.htm

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