Find The Connection

Dearest readers, see if you can find the relationship here.

Kay, a Harvard mentor of Orin and me, steered me to a paper co-written by my friend Susanna at Stanford:

To date, only a little is known about the dynamics of teacher performance in the first five years. This paper asks how much teachers vary in performance improvement during their first five years of teaching and to what extent initial job performance predicts later performance. We find that, on average, initial performance is quite predictive of future performance, far more so than typically measured teacher characteristics. Predictions are particularly powerful at the extremes.

Then Alia (now director of operations at Relay, go Alia!) sent me this story from EdWeek.  Otis Kriegel of NYU writes: 

I stopped at our "spot" and turned around, expecting to see 23 pairs of eyes focused upon me. But I did not. The front of the line was intact, as was the back. But the middle chunk was gone. It looked like someone had scooped up a group of my students and thrown them around the yard. They were everywhere, running, playing tag, or rolling around on the concrete in fits of laughter, backpacks tossed midstride. Frustrated and embarrassed, I yelled after them, but my voice landed on deaf ears. I abandoned the line of kids who had walked with me and ran across the yard to chase the others back over.

By the time I returned—my shirt unbuttoned, undershirt damp—my other students had dismissed themselves. What had gone wrong? My principal looked at me, half laughing, half serious, and said, "You'll get the hang of it."

The question I had was why, during two years of graduate school, including a year of student-teaching, didn't anyone tell me how to avoid a problem like this?

Well said.  Makes me want to buy his book.  

Hmm.  Let me get this straight.

If we could somehow* prepare unusually good rookie teachers, then Loeb et al show convincingly that those unusual good rookies are quite likely to actually flourish as they become more experienced?

And, by contrast, if we have teacher prep programs that (with various justifications) generate many rookies who struggle, those teachers quite likely to struggle with their pupils going forward, forever, until they leave the profession? 

Hmm.  Would that imply the "You'll figure it out" approach to teacher prep, with huge amounts of abstract knowledge and modest amounts of practical knowledge, is a bad idea for many rookie teachers (and ultimately students)? 

*Possibly by actually listening to teachers describe the "real life" challenges they face, and then map a prep experience to prepare them for that reality, and then hiring folks to lead that teacher preparation who themselves have proven they can solve those real life challenges....I don't know, I'm just saying.