Monday, April 27, 2009

New and (In)Effective Teachers

"But studies show that inexperienced teachers tend to be less effective, especially in their first two years. That is when they learn to tame an unruly bunch into a class, prepare six hours of daily lessons and grade 25 homework assignments without working through dinner."

This excerpt, from today's Washington Post news analysis on (in)effectiveness of new teachers made me ponder. Like many people who have lived and worked in inner cities, I often question the effectiveness of programs like Teach for America (TFA) that brings young inexperienced teachers into troubled districts.

The arguments for such programs are plenty: they bring vibrance and innovation to schools; students are able to relate to them because of their youth; they are a better alternative to burnt out (otherwise known as experienced) teachers.

There is no doubt that TFA and similar programs should be part of potential solutions to the public schools. However, if the Post piece is correct (and I think it is), I wonder how this phenomena bodes for improving the quality of education in poor districts.

Disclaimer: The Post story was about young teachers in general, with only one reference to TFA.

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