Teaching the teachers: Do we know how to create real professionals?

Return To Article

Commenting has temporarily been suspended in preparation for our new website launch, which is planned for the week of August 12th. When the new site goes live, we will also launch our new commenting platform. Thank you for your patience while we make these changes.


  • Misterjrh Atlanta, GA
    July 14, 2015 8:40 a.m.

    Occam's razor: The simplest solution is always correct.

    We can spend billions of dollars and countless years researching proper teaching.

    Or we can simply discipline students, and we can remove those who do not wish to learn to a job training program or counselling.

    Until these two things happen all of these studies are simply ways to collect federal and private monies.

    The most effective education program that we have in America is our military. We turn soft and complacent youth fattened by Cheetos and television (now by iPads and iPhones) into world history's most effective and efficient soldiers in only a few months or years.

    The two things the military has that our schools do not is rigid and uncompromising discipline, and the ability to eliminate those who are disinterested or dangerous.

    That's it.

    1. Discipline.

    2. The ability to remove/expel.

    If those two things fail, then by all means do a 1,000,000 dollar study.

  • disowned117 South Jordan, UT
    July 13, 2015 2:55 p.m.

    ....This should start at home....

  • Concerned Charter Parent Riverton, UT
    July 12, 2015 7:19 a.m.

    I am also a teacher, and I absolutely believe great teaching skills can be taught. The trouble is, a teacher must be willing to learn! I can't tell you the number of times I've sat in professional development meetings, and mentioned something that worked for me and greatly influenced the success of my students, only to have the other teachers say "that will never work!" and ignore the idea - it's frustrating.

  • Mom of Six Northern Utah, UT
    July 9, 2015 5:06 p.m.

    I left the teaching profession this past year after six years on the job. I loved teaching and being with students. I also loved to see their eyes light up as they learned new concepts or we discussed past events that effect us now. I believe that as a teacher if you build good relationships with your students and not keep them at arms length it is amazing just how far they will come for you. Unfortunately, these days it always feels that instead of letting teachers go on instinct or what works for them with students, districts are trying to mold their teachers into carbon copies of what they deem "acceptable" teachers. When you are constantly being told that your methods aren't good enough despite having SAGE scores in the 75% margin, why teach? When a retirement councilor tells you that working or not working makes no difference in the overall outcome of your life because of such stagnant wages why teach? I decided that although I love my students,and love teaching, my children at home is where I will make the most difference.

  • stephaniekym Saratoga Springs, UT
    July 9, 2015 4:46 p.m.

    I think there is a gift to teaching. Just as there is a gift for nursing or engineering; but you still have to learn the skill set do do the profession. I think that a lot more classroom management skills can be taught, as well as recognizing how different children learn in different ways.

    This also affirms to me that schools CANNOT be run on a national level. What works for Detroit is not going to work in small town Wyoming. Different people, different culture. Kids will learn in different ways. Schools must be run at a local level by people in the community that they teach. If we could individualize education more to how people in an area learn, we could give our kids an actual education, not just a piece of paper stating they passed a test.

  • DVD Taylorsville, UT
    July 9, 2015 12:26 p.m.

    Some of the comments are the best reading! DN editors, you might consider a program that helps with followup on these stories and the comments. There are some very good (and also not-so-good) ideas discussed in the comments sections here.

  • Utah Teacher Orem, UT
    July 9, 2015 1:31 a.m.

    I've been in the classroom for over 20 years now and the more time I spend there, the more I realize it is a gift that some have while other don't. Howard Beal up there said it just right. It is an art with a little science thrown in. I'm often asked by beginning teachers how I get my classes to behave so well. Also how do I get them so excited to come to class? They constantly mention that the kids seem to want to do what I ask. How do I get them to do that? I really don't have an answer. It is in the building of relationships within the classroom. Each class takes on a personality of its own and you have to learn how to function in each class. I might teach the same thing 6 times a day but I teach it differently all 6 times based on the students and the class personality. You can't really teach that at the University. It just comes naturally.

    Too bad we can't get paid for those skills like professional athletes do! Still I love my job and it has been a great career.

  • M_Hawke Golden, CO
    July 8, 2015 6:46 p.m.

    An interesting article. I worry that this "teacher reformation" movement will turn into as much of a fiasco as has our efforts to "improve" education for the students. I disagree with some of the premises given by the reformer wannabes. I think most of all the previous comments have presented some really good points.

    As a professional teacher and one that has been called upon several times to teach the teachers, I would agree that teaching skills can be innate for some people. But that does not preclude those without such natural talents from becoming a great teacher. Just like with any other skill or profession. Strong desire is a key. Love of your students is another key. Love of what you are teaching is yet another.

    It has been personal experience that those who lack natural skills in teaching can be taught how to become effective teachers. The end result has been a great source of gratification for the teacher--and even fun on the job!--and engaged learning for the students.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    July 8, 2015 3:42 p.m.

    One topic that hasn't been mentioned is the high turnover rate of teachers, particularly recent graduates who devoted four years of college to prepare for this career.

    Arizona and Utah both have serious issues with dismal teacher retention.

    Why?

  • Sequoya Stafford, VA
    July 3, 2015 7:24 p.m.

    We all need to learn how to teach, because we are all teachers from time-to-time.

    I like to Socratic Method, myself. I don't do it as well as a would like; but, I recognize that there are inherent advantages to structuring questions so that the student learns to teach him/herself.

    But whatever is taught -- we never learn it all, and we all need to do it better. I suppose it is especially so for those who might be labeled as "professional" teachers.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    July 2, 2015 4:45 p.m.

    Why do politicians, who have never taught in a classroom, set the standard?

    Why does a person, who has never served in the military, become the commander in chief?

    Teacher accountability should rest with parents, and professional educators.

    This is like having a doctor accountable to a plumber.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    July 2, 2015 4:24 p.m.

    Let's be real. Teaching is both an art and a science. Yes, skills can be learned and shared but a lot of teaching is innate. Those that deny this don't know much about teaching and education. You have to have a natural inclination to teach, work with young people etc. But again, there are things that can be taught to teachers to make their teaching better. But this idea that anyone can teach if taught a few tricks or skills is a farce that needs to end.

  • samhill Salt Lake City, UT
    July 2, 2015 1:39 p.m.

    "The teacher accountability approach, critics say, rests on the assumption that teaching is a natural talent that hinges on intelligence and passion more than skills and training"
    ===========

    Which begs the quick question, "Why does accountability for results rest on such an assumption?" Who are these "critics" that have made such a seemingly silly either/or assumption? Would not examining the results also be a measurement of the effectiveness of a teacher's "skills and training?"

    I realize this article wasn't meant to be a comprehensive analysis of this topic. But, it would have been useful to at least include a few names of the critics and been more specific about the logic upon which the aforementioned assumption is supposed to rest. As it stands, it appears to be a groundless assertion, yet crucial to the whole point of the article.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    July 2, 2015 1:24 p.m.

    Education, and the United States:

    Teaching the politicians: Do we know how to create real professional leaders?

    An eighteen trillion dollar debt, and half our population on government assistance.

    Aren't teachers more competent as teachers, than politicians as politicians.

  • Riverton Cougar Riverton, UT
    July 2, 2015 12:38 p.m.

    I'm convinced that teachers are not what's wrong. The system is what's wrong. Our teachers are doing excellently, especially for what they have to work with. They could use more pay for sure.

    Some things to consider:

    1) What are we doing about all this testing? I'm not opposed to tests, but they need to serve a purpose.

    2) We are currently holding teachers accountable for student learning, but are we holding students accountable? I think we are not. Students can show no motivation and do no work, failing the SAGE, then go on to the next grade with pretty much the same consequence as the straight A students (again, why test them then?). Nothing is done about that until high school, at which point they may be several years behind. This sends the message that not learning until high school is completely acceptable.

    3) Politics is getting too involved. Political correctness hinders the great work teachers do, and some school policies are great but others are not. They have strict policies about fighting, but are often afraid to suspend students because it hurts their attendance, which is overemphasized in my opinion.

  • LA Mormon West Valley, UT
    July 2, 2015 11:37 a.m.

    This article is interesting. We teachers already know what makes a skilled teacher. Teaching does not involve learning a few skills, but thousands of little things and then constantly changing with the students you have. It takes 3-5 years of real classroom experience to become a great teacher. It takes constant mentoring, feedback and reflection. What the nation and Utah need to do in order to have a great education system is pay teachers on the same level as nurses to start and then increase their pay when they demonstrate excellence in the classroom. Top teachers should earn $100,000 a year or more because of the great impact they can have on kids and other teachers they work with. If rewards are not put in place for greatness the system will never achieve its potential.