Are you “Un-Googleable”?
On his blog Weblogg-ed, ed tech consultant and former English teacher Will Richardson observed that, with the growth of interactive technology and virtual communities, kids today will lead lives that are far more transparent than most adults are accustomed to. In light of this, he argued, school administrators and educators need to do a better job of modeling effective transparency and online interaction in their own lives:
The fact that [many educators] are veritably “un-Googleable” in terms of finding anything they have created and shared and perhaps collaborated with others on troubles me on a number of levels. First, I can’t see for myself whether or not they are learners. And, almost more importantly, I get no sense as to whether or not they are leaders of learners. Whether they are in the classroom or in the front office, I want (demand?) the adults in my schools to be effective models for living in a transparent world. I want my kids to see them navigating these spaces effectively, sharing what they know, teaching others outside of their physical space, and contributing to the conversation.
Investing in Teacher Leaders
Public School Insights asked several guest blogger-teachers how they would spend the federal education stimulus funds if they were in charge. New York City teacher Ariel Sacks responded that she would invest in efforts to keep effective teachers from leaving the classroom. For her, that means creating and compensating teacher-leadership roles—something that she says is shamefully lacking at present:
I serve as a grade team facilitator, mentor teacher and curriculum developer, as well as a full-time teacher. These positions help teachers support one another and gain a voice in their schools, which can improve working conditions and outcomes for students. However, the titles and responsibilities don’t represent career advancement for me (or most other teachers) because, unlike in other professions, I’m not paid for my leadership skills. I could switch back to lunch duty and see no change in salary. Teacher compensation must be reshaped to reward and retain teachers who make valuable contributions to their school communities.
Distinguished Mississippi English teacher Renee Moore, on her blog TeachMoore, voiced skepticism about statistical attempts, often key to performance-pay plans, to measure the value added by a particular teacher to a student’s achievement level:
This concept denies the cumulative aspect of education. It ignores the truth that multiple factors impact the learning and retention of learning among students. ...
Moreover, students develop and mature as learners over time. A student may have been introduced to a concept or skill in 6th grade, had it reinforced in different ways by different teachers over several years, then in 10th or 11th grade that concept [seemingly] suddenly took root and the student actually assumed ownership of the knowledge as evidenced by a deeper understanding and ability to apply the concept. Such “seeding” and “harvesting” occurs repeatedly over the course of any student’s educational career. Which individual teacher would get the “credit” for these accomplishments?
For more highlights from the educator blogosphere, visit teachermagazine.org’s Blogboard.
A version of this article appeared in the October 01, 2009 edition of Teacher PD Sourcebook