Teachers who believe they’re responsible for their students learning improve achievement, according to a study of first-grade teachers reported in the new Education Next.
. . . children with teachers who have a greater sense of responsibility for student outcomes learn more in reading during the 1st grade.
Laura Lofergo asked teachers if they agreed with four statements:
* I make a difference in the lives of the children I teach.
* Many of the children I teach are not capable of learning the material I am supposed to teach them.
* The level of child misbehavior (noise, horseplay, or fighting) in this school interferes with my teaching.
* Routine duties and paperwork interfere with my teaching.
Teachers of low-income students are less likely to say they’re responsible for their learning, and more likely to cite out-of-school factors as critical. The school environment encourages teachers to feel they can make a difference — or to give up.
Teachers who report that their school’s leadership is supportive of their efforts in the classroom have a much greater sense of responsibility, as do teachers in Catholic schools. Improving the quality of school leadership could also be an effective means of staffing our nation’s classrooms with responsible teachers.
TMAO writes that he knows his students are disadvantaged in many ways but believes he can make a difference.
I believe in the power of teachers and schools to overcome those inequities and the obstacles they erect. I believe that the adults who run schools have the power to create environments where students are capable of meeting (at least!) these basic requirements. This is a belief I held in college and the last four years of teaching have only served to strengthen and reinforce it. Lack of motivation, poverty, ELL status, family troubles — there is no excuse for the failure to educate kids, only poor attempts to rationalize and explain away that failure.
It’s hard to keep that faith, but it’s critical.