Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Super-Duper Teacher Mentors

Just what we need ... more teachers with slightly above-average ability getting $20,000 to do less teaching and more "mentoring".
President Obama wants to create a “master teacher corps,” starting with 50 math and science teachers who’d earn an additional $20,000 a year to act as mentors, plan curriculum and lead school turnarounds. The administration proposes spending $100 million this year and $1 billion next year to increase the corps to 10,000 teachers, reports National Journal.
And how will we choose these Masters of the Classroom?  I figure that we'll use standardized test scores to select them for inclusion in the program, require them to submit 50-page portfolios of their teaching, including evidence of effectiveness as witnessed by superiors, a minimum of 40 hours of video recordings of the best lessons in their "toolbox".

What does "awesome" look like?
It looks like me, of course.
These subjective, holistic-sounding pieces of evidence will then be analyzed by three panels of master educators using an objective-sounding yet surprisingly sloppy RUBRIC to whittle down the candidate pool to those who are the "top talent", a euphemism for "someone willing to put a family life on hold while cranking out endless reams of drivel in exactly the proper format required."

Amazingly, the winners of this particular lottery will be those who are tallest, prettiest and who are the same skin color as the examiners. And then they'll throw in some others so they aren't accused of being racist or anything. Ethnicity will not be a factor until it has to be one to keep the list of "top talent" from seeming too monotonic.

After the candidates spend the requisite 200 hours putting together the 40 hours of video and another few hundred typing the portfolio into proper format, while grading endless term papers, reading and analyzing daily stacks of exit cards, preparing for and analyzing more standardized test data than the DOE ... then the Board will eliminate 90% of them.

The ones left won't be the best teachers; they won't be the best mentors; they probably won't even be well-educated.  They certainly won't have the personality to mentor their peers without being annoying little know-it-alls.

They'll be great at the trappings of education and lousy at doing the job that they're "paid" for.


  1. I love this post! It is exactly why a very experienced and probably great candidate to be a mentor, like myself, will not be applying.
    Thank you!

  2. Good: Jean took my first thought: "I love this post!"
    Bad: "getting $20,000 to do less teaching and more 'mentoring'."
    Ugly: Students from 50 math and science classes get less than they deserve because their teachers are busy typing.

  3. I'd take the extra $20K. It's gonna be spent anyway, may as well go into my pocket :-)

  4. It would just frustrate the hell out of me if some of the people in my old school got $20K for doing less teaching - the ones that I can see doing it are exactly the ones that would be worst at mentoring but great at the paper-heavy, touchy-feely crap that so many consultants and non-teachers seem to admire.