Presentation on theme: "Teaching in America Elizabeth A. Self Doctoral Student Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College Department of Teaching and Learning Language, Literacy,"— Presentation transcript:
Teaching in America Elizabeth A. Self Doctoral Student Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College Department of Teaching and Learning Language, Literacy, and Culture
Overview Historical Context Characteristics of Teachers Economic Status of Teacher Working Conditions Professional Status Current Issues
Our question for today: Why is it so difficult to improve teaching in the U.S. on a mass scale?
Schoolteacher (Lortie, 1975) Sociological study of teachers “Teaching is unusual in that those who decide to enter it have had exceptional opportunity to observe members of the occupation at work” (p. 65) Prior conceptions
Historical Context the abridged version Pre-industrial period (17th and 18th centuries) - - teachers mostly men Early industrial period (late 19th/early 20th century)-- more women teachers; moral stewards and reformers Mature industrial period (early 20th century) -- job market opened for men, who left teaching; cash-poor school districts hired women, who accepted low wages because of limited options
Characteristics of Teachers Typical American teacher is a 42-year-old, White, married woman with two children, who holds a graduate degree and has taught about 15 years Gender -- approximately even in secondary levels, but disproportionately female in elementary school Race -- in 2007-08, 82.3% White; African American teachers more likely to teach in schools with higher proportions of minority students Age -- nearly the same for elementary and secondary levels, public/private, and all ethnicities
Diversifying the Demographic Efforts to increase representation of minorities (Sleeter, 2001; Sleeter & Milner, 2011) -- must consider Reliance on standardized tests in teacher education programs and licensing Overwhelming Whiteness of TEP Some efforts to increase number of men
Economic Status Huge teacher shortages in early 20th century + eligible people did not want to enter teaching (not a “man’s task”) = people hired who were inexperienced and untrained Low teacher pay is linked to teacher dissatisfaction and the number of new entrants 25% of public school teachers earn incomes from outside sources Teacher’s salaries high for women compared to other women workers but low for men compared to other men workers Would require a 25% increase in pay for US teachers to be comparable to teachers globally
Alternative Teacher Compensation Signing bonuses, especially for math and science teachers, and other benefits Performance- (or behavior-) based -- pay based on being a “good teacher” Outcome-based -- “merit pay” or value-added (see Springer et al., 2010) National Board Certification and/or bonuses for teachers to move to high-poverty schools (see Washington state) Six-figure salaries for teachers -- The Equity Project, NY ($125k plus bonuses)
Working Conditions Class size increases with budget shortfalls Average number of hours per week (1997): 46-47 The more low-income students, the less access to materials Safety a concern in urban and secondary schools Level of isolation/collaboration varies and often determined by school climate (Henke et al. 1997; Smith et al., 1997)
What teachers have to decide What to teach (content knowledge) -- more standards, not necessarily a more standardized curriculum How to teach it (pedagogy) -- method of instruction; what best meets the needs of each student? How to assess it -- quizzes, tests, essay, project, presentations; tied to pedagogical approach What and when to reteach How to engage/motivate -- build intrinsic or extrinsic rewards; best motivator may vary by student
Let’s plan together English/Language Arts RL.11-12.4. Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including words with multiple meanings or language that is particularly fresh, engaging, or beautiful.
What teachers have to do Administrative: take attendance, make copies, complete forms for fundraisers Classroom management: seating charts, passing out and collecting papers, consequences, discipline School functions: monitor hallways, lunch room, ISS, study hall; sell tickets at sporting events; supervise students at assemblies Professional duties: departmental, grade-level, and faculty meetings; IEP/504 meetings, family nights, parent-teacher conferences Planning: must consider standards (Common Core), ability levels, differentiation, motivation/engagement, growth Instruction: lecture, manage group-work, meet with students one-on-one, respond to students’ questions/confusion/disengagement/unexpected interruptions Assessment: formative and summative, grades, feedback, class-level and school- /district-/state-level
Social Class and School Culture Race/ethnicity (Howard, 2010; Milner, 2010), social class (Lareau, 1987) make a difference in how teachers see their work, students, students’ families, and colleagues Students sorted and selected early based on presumed ability (Rist, 1967; Gouldner, 1978) Culturally responsive/relevant pedagogy (Gay, 2010; Ladson-Billings, 2011) and a more diverse teaching demographic needed
Professional Status Considered by some as a semi- or quasi- profession; deskilled through highly specific tasks (ie. scripted curriculum) Some sociologists have used a gender-neutral approach to studying the professional status of teachers; others emphasize that teaching is female-dominated Look at conditions necessary to teachers’ professional fulfillment (optimistic, empowered, challenged)
Some Empirical Questions What is the role of selectivity in recruiting highly- educated individuals to teaching? (Think TFA or read Martin Haberman.) Are the skills of highly effective teachers the same in differing school contexts? If so, what would motivate them to move to high-need schools? If not, how should teacher education respond to this variation in necessary skill sets? How will the changing national and student demographic affect the necessary knowledge base for teachers?
So what’s your answer? Why is it so difficult to improve teaching in the U.S. on a mass scale?