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Gail .
  • Gail .
  • Myrtle Beach, SC
  • United States


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Improve k-12 educations

I hear a lot of arguments about ending or promoting standardized testing - how they are good / bad for students. But I have never heard someone propose the simple idea of putting cameras in the classroom, and broadcasting the class on the Internet. Then permit parents to leave feedback and move their student into a different teacher's class if the parent thinks it best for the child.

If everyone wanted a specific teacher, then that teacher has it right and the unchosen teachers need to be replaced or re-educated about educating (perhaps by demoting them to teachers' aides to the good teachers)

this would accomplish many things.
1) The teacher, being knowingly observed, will be less complacent
2) Students who do better at home could learn on-line, using email to ask question.
3) Adults who need basic skills could get a basic education for free from home. (Record the class on You-Tube like videos)
4) Bad teachers who don't know that they are bad teachers will be given the feedback they desperately need (and can't be assessed by a principal in a one-class a semester or a year observance)

Let the market decide who is a good teacher and who isn't. They will prove a better indicator than tests. (Need to get past union objections for this, and that's another story.)

What do you think?


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    Oct 4 2012: Look at the processes where we do routinely monitor/record the key operatives: courtrooms; surgeries; casino dealers/players; retail shoppers; motor vehicle drivers; financial institutions; interrogations; parking lots; etc. What specific freedom or spontaniety would be diminished and cause a teacher/union to object to classroom recording? What does a teacher want to say or do that they would prefer be kept secret? Also, remember that unions are opposed to performance-based evaluations of their members. Unmotivated, under-performing parasites need the artificial atmosphere of a union environment to thrive. Is the education of our young people not sufficiently important to be included on the list of monitored processes in our society?
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      Oct 4 2012: I hate being photographed but I have no problem with visitors coming through in person. That said, my classrooms have been filmed.

      Parents often don't like the idea of other people- strangers or other parents- seeing their kids in the classroom. In some cases parents are asked to sign releases for their children to be shown as part of classroom filming.

      In my experience observation ruffles the students much more than it does the teacher. Kids are more likely to try challenging things and offer ideas in discussion that might be wrong if the environment is not being recorded, observed, or broadcast.
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        Oct 4 2012: Three good points, Mr. Reisner. Having a camera in the room is similar to having a visitor. It will affect deportment until it becomes familiar at which point it will be ignored and unnoticed. The recordings must be treated as confidential data to be reviewed by authorized personnel only with full documentation of all viewings. Facial recognition technology will allow students to be individually unidentifiable. If it is determined that education would be significantly improved by implementation of classroom recording it would be shameful to ignore it because of petty personal preferences and phobias.
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          Oct 4 2012: I raised mostly practical considerations. I seriously doubt that education would be improved even slightly by continuous filming and expect that the significant resources that that policy would require could be used much more effectively in numerous other ways.

          Maybe it is useful to ask ourselves, in the central jobs we have had in our careers, would continuous surveillance have been the great key to improving our performance?
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        Oct 4 2012: Classroom recording may be a poor solution and not worth pursuing but the problem is none-the-less real. . . how to identify and eliminate sub-standard teachers.
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          Oct 4 2012: Identifying sub-standard teachers is easy. Everyone in the school building knows who they are- students, parents, other teachers, and administrators.

          There are lots of other areas as well that need addressing. As in any work setting, excessive time spend in meetings, mandates from on high (in the administrative sense) that make no sense, inadequate supporting personnel, politicized environments...constrain talented people from doing a challenging job well.
        • Oct 5 2012: The real problem is the method of stating what makes a great teacher, All types of biases can prevent the people to see a truly noble teacher even if the teacher is recorded every second of the day at his or her respective job.
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        Oct 5 2012: OK. If identifying sub-standard teachers is easily solved then just one problem remains. . . how to get rid of them. Then we will have improved K-12 education.
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          Oct 5 2012: Zared above mentions that it is difficult to distinguish really great teachers. While I am not sure I agree with that, when teaching conditions are not very good, it becomes difficult to attribute failures in the classroom to any one cause.

          A teacher may be failing in a very bad environment for teaching who would be fine in a productive environment for teaching- with the instructional materials, class sizes, and administrative policies, for example, that contribute positively to the enterprises of teaching and learning rather than standing as obstacles only extraordinary teachers can overcome.

          At some schools, for example, new teachers are automatically assigned the hardest classes to teach and more separate subjects than teachers who have been there longer. This is one reason turnover among new teachers has typically been high.
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        Oct 5 2012: I agree it is a generalization to insinuate that all the ills of K-12 education would be cured by getting rid of sub-standard classroom teachers. We must include sub-standard administrators and school board members in the equation. We, the taxpayers, need to teach our teachers better by raising the bar at the University level. Then we need to monitor the policies in each school to be sure teachers are enabled, and expected, to exercise their skills as competent, motivated teachers. The root cause of the malady in K-12 education, just as it is in most tax-funded activities, is parent/voter/taxpayer apathy and ignorance. The result is sub-standard classroom teachers and administrators protected by unions and cronyism.
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        Oct 5 2012: When I took my first job as a 100% commission sales person, I secretly audiotaped every conversation that I had. I then reviewed them, much like a football team reviews the previous day's plays. I practiced from what I learned.

        In sales, if you believe in your product, as I did, then it's simply a matter of giving more information in a better way, so that what I say or show is more relevant. So that's what' I focused on. In this context, a sales person is the equivalent of a teacher. By observing, I perfected my educational methods, and I watched the money increase dramatically. If almost every field of labor can be improved by observing and learning from what doesn't work, then it only makes sense that a teacher's performance can be improved.

        Children will forget about the cameras in 3 days. They don't have a choice and are used to being supervised; but teachers will not be so quick to do so. Those who are the best teachers will review the tapes on their own. Children's faces can be smeared, as can the teacher's. Video taping is called honesty.

        This might honestly help teachers who student's parents hear "Mr. XXX is such a bad teacher and he won't help me figure it out". The parent can review the class and make an independent determination. Then either expose the child's dishonesty or the teacher's ineptitude and make a formal complaint that can then be fairly evaluated.
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          Oct 5 2012: Teachers are observed frequently with feedback during their teacher training. They are then observed at least once per year as part of teacher evaluation by the administrator assigned to do their evaluations and often by others as well.

          If a teacher is suspect because of report/complaint from students, parents, or others, administrators in a building will watch on a much more frequent schedule.

          This is absolutely standard.The observations are done by professional educators rather than the general public.

          In most careers in which people are observed for purposes of improving their performance, such observation and feedback is done by professionals in that line of work.

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