On Family Feuds & Teacher Training

images (1)By Kenzie Kilb – My poor dad.

He’s always the odd man out: as literally the only man in the family, and by way of profession. He’s a financial advisor: he comes from a world of numbers and order and efficiency.

Then there’s the rest of us: my sister, an Elementary Education major at UW-Madison, my mother, an Adjunct Professor at Carroll University, and me, a graduate student in the Education Policy and Leadership program here at Marquette.

While as a family we share many core values and beliefs, when it comes to the topic of education…well, there are arguments. And snarky comments about Scott Walker (from both ends).

One topic that’s become particularly contentious is the debate regarding teacher training and evaluation.

For my dad, education should run like any other business, and the process is black and white. You’re either good at your job or you’re not; if you’re not you should be fired (or at least earn less money).

For those of us in the education field, we know there are complexities. And fortunately, these complexities are starting to be addressed through new methods and research. Last week, New York Times columnist Joe Nocera wrote about a project at The University of Michigan School of Education that made two major proposals in terms of teacher evaluation: the first deals with the way teachers are observed in the classroom, and the second deals with measuring student growth in terms less restricted to standardized testing.

Most importantly, Nocera notes, the proposal avoids “divisive political language” by emphasizing the importance of using teacher evaluations as a means for feedback and improvement, rather than as a means of getting rid of bad teachers.

Ultimately, the proposal in Michigan didn’t pass. But, to me, it offers a hopeful indication that the national conversation might start to shift.

You can find the article here. The ideas are worth consideration– even my dad agreed with them.

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