Teachers can do research too!
The St. Louis Post profiled an elementary teacher in the beleaguered city school system.
❝Johnson labored at night and through winter and summer breaks for three years, and the product of that passion is a supplemental learning project. It represents one teacher's homegrown effort to solve one classroom's deficiencies, with the hope of later helping to turn around an entire district.❞
The program works by having students progress through levels as they learn their basic math facts down cold.
❝When a master steps to the podium, there's good reason that mesmerized classmates congregate at the podium like mere mortals gathering at the cage while Albert Pujols takes batting practice:
A master can write the answers to 100 multiplication questions in 110 seconds.❞
It sounds like a personalized version of the Fastt Math that is becoming popular in suburban districts.
I want to highlight one of the problems with the attitude of the city school district.
❝Though district officials subscribe to the theory that the achievement gap needs to be erased one classroom at a time, they say educational practices must first undergo rigorous research and academic review.
"He knows what works for him. That's not to say he doesn't have a program that works well for his students. But he doesn't have the research base yet to implement what he is doing on a larger scale," said William Parker, an assistant superintendent for elementary education.❞
I understand wanting to use research-based curriculum changes, but the district is essentially telling its teachers that no matter how hard they work and how effective they are since they can't provide the large research basis that commercial suppliers can, they are not as important. A better response would be to work with him to run a larger pilot study and to help publish. Working with teachers as collaborators instead of just implementers of off-the-shelf but "researched" curriculum would go a long way toward improving working conditions.
❝When his wife, Cathy, asks why Johnson remains in the city when he "could be making $10,000 more to work in the county" his response is uniform. And it starts with those students who hail, as he did, from a single-parent home absent a father.❞
While the city schools don't pay that much less than the county, an effective African-American male elementary teacher is highly recruitable. The city shouldn't rely on his desire to help kids from single-parent homes and should provide the supportive environment that teachers like him need, including helping them know how to share their work with others.