Sound research and common sense have put to rest the question of whether good teaching matters: It does. But exactly what constitutes high-quality teaching?
High-quality teaching occurs when teachers come to the classroom with a toolkit of knowledge and skills that they employ based on a set of effective practices and that lead, over time, to student learning. Teachers work as part of a professional community within a workplace that supports continuous learning for both children and adults.
The current, fragmented continuum for developing teaching expertise must be transformed into a system capable of supporting and assisting teachers to be the best they can be. It must be flexible, dynamic, and responsive to changing demographics and student needs; a system that “learns” and adapts to change.
Like most states, California has all the parts—recruitment, preparation, induction, and professional development for teachers. We assess teacher-candidates and novices, and we evaluate veterans. But we don’t connect these elements into a smart system that is focused on results for students and supportive of teachers. We don’t gather enough data about teachers and teaching, and we don’t sufficiently share or use the data we do collect.
In December, the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning issued a report on the status of California’s teaching profession. The report focuses heavily on teaching quality.