The research is clear– the most important factor contributing to student achievement is the skill of each individual teacher. We’ve known forever that teachers matter. Certainly, parents have been in on this little secret for years. That’s why they clamber for one particular teacher over another. They know their child will learn and grow in a classroom led by a highly-skilled professional. The teacher matters.
Clearly the Department of Education has this message as well. The only states granted NCLB waivers were those that had a plan, in place, to tie student growth to teacher evaluation (Standard 7 in Virginia). While Standard 7 will present challenges for school divisions, it also presents opportunities for teachers to learn and grow.
For the past several years, Stafford County has partnered with Research for Better Teaching (RBT) to offer the graduate course “The Skillful Teacher.” During the course of six full days of instruction, teachers gain practical, pedagogical knowledge about their craft. That is, they learn and grow as professionals. They become more skilled.
To be sure, teachers matter to me. In fact, I love to be in the presence of teachers. I get the same feeling with teachers that I had when I taught students. I’m glad I feel this way, because this spring I interviewed with RBT for a position as an in-district Skillful Teacher instructor. I’ll be teaching again! I cannot wait.
Should I be taking this on now? In the middle of a doctoral program? Is my plate too full? Maybe. But I know that I have to do this. Teachers matter to kids. And kids and teachers matter to me.