So says the combined authority of Hess, Gunn, and Meeks in an interesting commentary at Education Week. Here’s the short version: We’re never going to get all the omnicompetent super-teachers we think we need. So instead, let’s take the work force we have and change the job of teaching — change the structure of institutional education, change what we’re doing with schools, really — in order to maximize that force’s effectiveness.
Of the various proposals in the essay, I think the promotion of specialization is probably the best. Every teacher — even the ones that I considered awful when I was in school — has some talent. No human is completely bereft of talent, save perhaps those suffering from certain really extreme birth defects. Learning how to use the talents of your employees is one of the hallmarks of a good manager and a good leader.
Even if turning the school into the equivalent of a hospital, complete with a para-educational staff and a small army of administrative workers, turns out not to be feasible, it’s a novel idea, and the authors are probably right that it’s easier than attempting to hire not hire all those super-teachers.