May 16, 2011
Rethinking the teaching job seems less a bold move than a no-brainer. We don't have to look far to find at least three ways to start rethinking the job, says Frederick Hess, a resident scholar and director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.
One, rethinking geographical limitations:
- Virtual-learning options like Tutor.com can offer families online tutoring in a variety of subjects, 24 hours a day, from expert tutors around the world.
- This arrangement makes it possible for students to have access to high-quality supplementary instruction either at school or from home.
Two, rethinking tasks:
- Rocketship Education is a high-performance charter school that uses a hybrid model of classroom instruction, real-time assessments and customized, supplementary services in its "learning lab."
- The result is that each teacher has any given student for only about 75 percent of the school day, as the student spends the other quarter receiving computer-assisted instruction or small-group tutoring from local college students.
- This division of labor allows classroom instructors to delegate, so that they can focus on cultivating expert-level skills in coaching and motivation, instruction and discussion, classroom management, and problem-solving around student issues and needs.
Three, rethinking who can teach:
- Boston-based Citizen Schools, for example, provides highly regarded after-school instruction and career-based learning by arranging for local volunteers to work with students on a regular basis.
- Rather than simply serve as mentors or once-a-week "reading buddies," participants teach weekly modules that tackle complex projects with interested students.
- Citizen Schools leverages the expertise of local professionals on a part-time (and cost-free) basis and points to the promise of approaches that do not wholly depend on full-time, career-long staffing.
Source: Frederick M. Hess, Greg M. Gunn, Olivia M. Meeks, "How to Improve Teacher Quality? Treat Teachers as Individuals," Education Week, May 9, 2011.
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