Reposted from EducationNext:
“The trouble always starts when teachers are told to put innovative ideas into practice without much guidance on how to do it. In the hands of unprepared teachers, the reforms turn to nonsense, perplexing students more than helping them. This observation, that poor teacher preparation turns everything to garbage, strikes me as the skeleton key that unlocks so much of our failure to make and sustain gains in American education, regardless of grade, setting, subject, and school-governance model.
This needs to stop. Your preferred pedagogy, curriculum, approach, or technology has to be within the skills of ordinary teachers to implement well and effectively. If it takes a superstar teacher it’s a nonstarter. Green hints at this madness, noting that inadequate implementation makes math reform seem like the most absurd form of policy change. “Why try something we’ve failed at a half-dozen times before,” she asks, “only to watch it backfire?”
That may sound like mere nuance, but it’s not. The difference is not who the teacher is, but what the teacher does. And what the teacher does has to be learned, practiced, and mastered by the teachers we have, not the teachers we wished we had. There’s a tendency among education reformers and economists who study data on teacher effectiveness to say, “See, teacher effectiveness varies dramatically from one teacher to another, even in the same school. Weed out the ineffective ones!” The more effective approach would be to look at the same data and say, “What might help to elevate the less effective teachers? What might help the ordinary to become good, and the good become great?””