Teaching

Debunking one myth about U.S. teachers

Back in 2010, McKinsey & Company issued a report that made a powerful argument: the world’s top performing school systems draw teachers from the best and brightest in their societies, but in the United States, almost half of new teachers come from the bottom third, as measured by SAT scores.  It’s been cited by a New York […]

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Should students discover their own math lessons?

Student-centered instruction is difficult jargon for lay people like myself to get their heads around, especially for a subject like mathematics. The idea, as I understand it, is to present students with questions, puzzles and scenarios and let them try to figure out the procedures for solving them, by themselves. A traditional teacher might simply explain, […]

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Education researchers don’t check for errors — dearth of replication studies

Education theories come and go. Experts seem to advocate for polar opposites, from student discovery to direct teacher instruction, from typing to cursive hand-writing, and from memorizing times tables to using calculators. Who can blame a school system for not knowing what works? One big problem is that education scholars don’t bother to replicate each […]

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What U.S. schools can learn from Poland

By any measure, Poland has made remarkable education progress since the fall of the Berlin Wall. On the most recent 2012 international tests of 15-year-olds, known as PISA tests, Poland ranked 9th in reading and 14th in math among all 65 countries and sub-regions that took the test. It used to be on par with the […]

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The teaching profession is becoming less gray and less green, but more teachers are leaving poor schools

Much ink has been devoted to the teaching profession’s increasingly gray and green complexion — the profusion of teachers at the two extremes of the age spectrum. There are lots of veteran teachers older than 50. Meanwhile, school systems have hired hundreds of thousands of cheaper newbies without much experience in the classroom. That leaves the U.S. school […]

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Right and wrong methods for teaching first graders who struggle with math

To help young kids who struggle with math, well-intentioned teachers often turn to non-traditional teaching methods. They use music and movement to involve the whole body.  They use hands-on materials such as popsicle sticks to help the students understand tens and hundreds. Or they encourage students to come up with different strategies for solving 7 + […]

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What makes for happier teachers, according to international survey

  Teachers who say they get included in school decision-making and collaborate often with other teachers are more likely to say that teaching is a valued profession in their society.  In turn, these same teachers report higher levels of job satisfaction and confidence in their ability to teach and to motivate students, according to a 2013 […]

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Controversial data-driven research behind the California court’s decision to reject teacher tenure

Underlying the California court’s decision on June 10, 2014 to reject teacher tenure as unconstitutional is a controversial body of academic research on teacher effectiveness.  The argument that won out was that tenure rules often force school districts to retain their worst teachers. Those ineffective teachers tend to end up at the least desirable schools […]

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Newly minted teachers in 2012 on average owe $429 a month

Should future teachers be taking out massive loans to get their master’s of education degrees? A March 26, 2014 report by the New America Foundation points out that as much as 40 percent of the $1 trillion in student debt outstanding was borrowed not for college, but to pay for grad school. And some 80% […]

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Top 10 teachers in Florida illustrate how messy and absurd the new teacher data is

This week of February 24, 2014 the State of Florida was forced to dump a boat load of data on its teachers into the public domain (It lost a law suit to Times Union newspaper in Florida, which requested the data). Nearly every public and charter school teacher in the state is named. And next […]

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