Monday, March 08, 2010

Training teachers like ice skaters

In another example of the lessons from the book The Talent Code : Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How. ( (which I discussed here:, Jay Mathews profiles what the fantastic MATCH charter school in Boston ( is doing to train new teachers.  Some GREAT best practices here:

Goldstein believes those daily efforts to strengthen the academic work of easily discouraged teenagers is key to the success of the new teacher training method. "We fundamentally reject the notion that by reading lots of psychology articles, a teacher can develop a meaningful, usable sense of how kids learn," he said. "Instead, to develop an intuitive sense for how kids learn, we think 1,000 hours of sitting next to kids and tutoring, 1-on-1 or 1-on-2, is the way to go. This frees you from classroom management issues, and gets right to the heart of actual learning and learning breakdowns."

Those MATCH Corps members are also getting experience in building relationships with students and parents, using methods that Goldstein and his team have developed through trial and error over the years. Goldstein said much of the teacher training method stems from the work of the school's founding principal, Charlie Sposato, who died of cancer in 2007.

The MATCH teacher trainees also practice mastery of classroom management. Lack of that skill explains most failures of young teachers. "We have very specific moves," Goldstein said. "You can't even begin student teaching until you pass The Gateway -- simulated classroom environments with real kids executing coordinated small potatoes misbehaviors."

Goldstein is not saying he has created the New Super Ed School that will sweep away the big university campuses that teach John Dewey, but not how to teach. "We're just claiming that we're trying something new," he said. "The MATCH concept in 1999 was originally a media-themed school, and that is totally gone, replaced by tutoring and AP For All. So I'm not dumb enough to think that what I'm telling you above won't change radically in the coming years, if we keep our eye on the results."

He is sending graduates of this experiment out to teaching jobs in charter schools of the No Excuses variety, places that pride themselves on gains in student achievement. Amy D'Angelo, principal of an Achievement First school in Brooklyn, called one MATCH trained teacher, Ellie Brown, "the best first year teacher I've ever seen." Jason Singer, who runs a high school that is part of the KIPP charter network in California, said another MATCH product, Laura Einhorn, was "light years beyond a traditional first year teacher," according to Goldstein.

Goldstein also asked visiting experts--all of them experienced principals--to evaluate new teachers in charter schools without telling them which ones had come from MATCH. His sample is very small, he said, but his graduates scored 25 percent higher on average than the non-MATCH teachers.


Training teachers like ice skaters

Jay Mathews

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