Teachers Column

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The Los Angeles city school system is planning to form a cadre of 200 "master teachers," both to reward outstanding teachers and to serve as models for others in the profession.

The teachers, who will be chosen by school administrators, will be available to help other teachers, particularly new ones, while continuing their own full-time classroom work.

While the master teachers will assist their colleagues, they will not become supervisors, according to school officials. The district will assign substitute teachers to take over when the master teachers are working in a colleague's classroom.

They will be paid an extra $1,100 per year. The average salary of the 26,000 teachers in the Los Angeles school district is $24,650.

Excellence in classroom teaching will also be recognized under a new program sponsored by Lehigh University's School of Education and nearby school districts in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Like Los Angeles's master-teacher program, the Associates Program will be based on the premise that outstanding teachers can play a role in improving their peers' instructional skills.

This summer, two teachers from each of the 10 sponsoring school districts--one from the elementary level and one from the secondary level--will begin work on an individualized course of study at Lehigh. The program will include a seminar conducted by prominent educators.

Next fall, the teachers--who will be selected for the Lehigh program by their school administrators on the basis of teaching ability, professional service, and academic competence--will work together in after-school seminars to develop curriculum packages for their colleagues.

The program, said Perry Zirkel, dean of Lehigh's school of education, "addresses the current need for excellence in teaching by giving an incentive through recognition and by training top teachers to work in an in-service leadership role."

A recent study by two members of the faculty at Rutgers University's graduate school of education suggests that teachers should pay heed to the maxim about cleanliness and godliness.

In a report entitled, "The Classroom Setting as a Source of Expectations about Teachers and Pupils," Carol Weinstein and Anita Woolfolk have concluded that teachers with messy classrooms risk being viewed as less effective educators.

In showing color slides of elementary-school classrooms in varying degrees of untidiness to groups of adults and adolescents, the researchers found that observers tended to predict the quality of a teacher according to the neatness of the classroom, with tidy teachers earning better grades from the observers than apparently sloppy ones.

Teachers with messy classrooms were regarded by those surveyed as unstimulating, lazy, unresponsive to student needs, unable to inspire good student behavior, lacking in creativity, dissatisfied with their work, and even undependable.

Among the fifth graders who were shown the slides, not one preferred a messy room over a tidy one, the report revealed.

For a copy of the study, write to Carol Weinstein or Anita Woolfolk, Graduate School of Education, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J. 08903; or call (201) 932-1766.

Vol. 01, Issue 34

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