Appreciating teachers

If you haven’t already read Charles Blow’s Op-Ed in this morning NY Times, you should:

Next week is National Teacher Appreciation Week, and, as far as I’m concerned, they don’t get nearly enough.

On Tuesday, the United States Department of Education is hoping that people will take to Facebook and Twitter to thank a teacher who has made a difference in their lives. I want to contribute to that effort. And I plan to thank a teacher who never taught me in a classroom but taught me what it meant to be an educator: my mother.

The column is 95% wonderful, but it hit one of my pet peeves in calling for more “top third” teaching candidates.  Here’s the comment I left in response:

Reading this was a wonderful way to start my weekend morning. As an NYC public school teacher, I appreciate Mr. Blow’s efforts to raise our profession, and I particularly enjoyed the overwhelming number of positive comments about teachers.

I did want to add one thing, though. Mr. Blow references the oft-cited McKinsey report which calls for more teachers to come from the top-third of their graduating classes. It’s important to note that the same report notes that while “A growing body of research suggests that a teacher’s cognitive ability, as measured by standardized test scores, grades and college selectivity, correlates with improved outcomes…other credible research finds such effects either statistically insignificant or small.”

As a “top-third” teacher (1450 SAT, Brown University BA) finishing my 7th year in NYC, I would want to add that I’ve seen little correlation between a teacher’s education background and their success in NYC classrooms. Most of the most disastrous new teachers I’ve worked with came from top tier schools, whereas the majority of the best teachers I’ve worked with did not.

I hope as we enter Teacher Appreciation Week, we can appreciate all the wonderful teachers we have, regardless of their educational background.