Opinion

In our opinion: What makes a good teacher?

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  • birder Salt Lake City, UT
    March 18, 2017 1:44 p.m.

    @Utah Girls:
    On the phone with parents until 8 p.m.? At school Saturday's and Sundays? In other words, no life outside of school. That actually makes a poor teacher. It is not wise to work 24/7 in any profession outside of parenthood.
    The ability to be a good teacher has largely been squashed by the ridiculous testing requirements and by districts who micromanage every bit of the curriculum.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    March 18, 2017 9:00 a.m.

    What makes a great teacher? It's many things, of course.

    Asked a different way, how many (potentially) great teachers have either quit early in their careers, or steered away from that career path in college, based on the widespread opinion of other college students that teaching is a bad career choice?

    Kudos to the teachers who win awards for being great teachers.

    And shame on the Legislature - and the voters who keep voting them into power - for creating a situation where these teachers stand out so much.

    The great teachers that win these awards should not be so unusual. We need to aspire to the point where this level of teacher is just above average. It will take a generation of focus and commitment to get there.

  • Mick , 00
    March 17, 2017 5:06 p.m.

    Husker-

    My sister is a teacher in alpine. Yes, 180 days of paid sick leave. I stand corrected in the insurance. They didn't have to pay a few years ago but now it is 221$ a month for a family with a 500 dollar deductible. Not touchable by the private sector.

  • Shaun Sandy, UT
    March 17, 2017 4:21 p.m.

    @2bits. Reread my comment. I said my statement was about the overall comments that have been made on stories about the teacher storage. Not this specific article.

    You know this is not the first story ran by the dnews on this topic. Most of the commenters on this topic overall have not been in the favor of teachers.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 17, 2017 3:07 p.m.

    @Shaun
    @2bits "Nobody has said teachers are over paid. If you can find one comment saying that please let us know."

    It is a general common theme from most commenters on the teacher shortage and the stories about their pay"...
    ---

    If it's a generally common them from most coments on this topic.... why can't you find even one comment from this thread saying that to prove it?

    Because we're not saying that. It's not a common theme in most comments here. It's your assumption about what others think.

    If "Most" are saying that... you would think you could find even one comment saying "teachers are overpaid".

    Problem is... nobody's saying that. You just ASSUME they would say that.

    It's called a strawman. Say people are saying something that's just plain not true so you can attack it. Nobody's saying teachers are over-paid.

    If they are... show us. I don't see anybody here saying that.

    Anybody who actually says teachers are overpaid... is crazy (IMO).

  • Shaun Sandy, UT
    March 17, 2017 2:42 p.m.

    @2bits "Nobody has said teachers are over paid. If you can find one comment saying that please let us know."

    It is a general common theme from most commenters on the teacher shortage and the stories about their pay. I was never insinuating that it was the general consensus from this specific articles comments.

    Also to be completely clear it doesn't matter if anyone here thinks teachers have it made, have it good enough because of the summers or are paid enough. What matters is what is happening in the marketplace. You or anyone else might think 50k, 60k, 30k, 80k or whatever is great or sufficient, but what matters is can the state find teachers and keep them and the answer seems to be no.

    Are there other things that could entice teachers to stay or join the profession? Sure but it doesn't seem like we as taxpayers and the state are willing to entertain any of those ideas.

  • geekusprimus Little Elm, TX
    March 17, 2017 2:25 p.m.

    I can find some common characteristics between all of my favorite teachers from high school:
    1. I had to work. I had to study for tests, do homework, and demonstrate my capacity to think for myself. It was clear that I was responsible for my own success.
    2. The teacher demonstrated passion for the subject. One of my least favorite teachers demonstrated on nearly a daily basis her incompetence in the subject and her lack of desire to be a teacher.
    3. The teacher could explain a subject clearly and simply and involved the students. This meant we helped solve problems in my math and science classes, answered questions and participated in discussions in history classes, and were given opportunities to ask questions and provide our own perspective during English classes.

  • Husker1 Northern Utah County, UT
    March 17, 2017 2:18 p.m.

    @Mick "Teachers don't pay anything (or maybe 25 dollarsa month) for very good health insurance. The get 180 days of paid sick leave."

    Are you sure about these benefits? In Provo School District, monthly health care is several hundred dollars a month with an enormous deductible and they get 15 paid sick days a year (which includes all doctor and dentist visits).

    How does Alpine give 180 days of paid sick leave when there are only 180 school days?

  • JSB Sugar City, ID
    March 17, 2017 2:01 p.m.

    It is very hard to objectively determine what makes a good teacher. But in one study, the principal and another member of the staff in several different schools were asked to rank the effectiveness of teachers in their school based upon their own subjective opinion without discussing it with each other or other teachers. The results were correlated and in every school in the study, there was a strong positive correlation with almost total agreement in the top and bottom 10%. Teacher unions hate this kind of research but think of how education could be improved if we could find some way of eliminating that bottom 10% of teachers. And I think parents and taxpayers would be more inclined to want to pay teachers more if they felt that the money wasn't being wasted on incompetency.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    March 17, 2017 2:00 p.m.

    I had five superb teachers in high school.

    Within three years after my graduation every one of them had left and were all thriving in the private sector.

    One became one of the top music lawyers in the nation. Another became a well-paid consultant. Another started his own public opinion research company and made a fortune. Another started a corporate training company and retired a multi-millionaire.

    Why didn't they stay in teaching? Should we create a legislative task force to look into it?

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 17, 2017 1:23 p.m.

    @air Flower
    RE: "There is NO way a new teacher makes anywhere $44,514-$58,874 per year!"...
    ---
    Average entry level Teacher in Utah gets $30,100 (Source Salt Lake Tribune)
    That's State average, your district may be above or below that

    Go to the website. This is statistics. It's like baby weights and national test scores. Your weight or score grouped into percentiles and the average for that percentile displayed for reference.

    Look at the graph. It gives several numbers along the curve.

    Bottom 10% AVG = $38,616.
    Means some in this group (10th percentile) earn less than $38,616 (First year teachers etc). Some in that percentile earn more than that number

    Bottom 25% = $44,514

    50% = $50,992

    75 percentile ave is $58,874

    The 90th percentile (highest paid teachers in Sandy) averages $66,051

    ===

    RE: "I finally made about that after 25 years and a lot of education"...
    ---
    That would make sense. The 50th percentile average 25 years ago would have been much lower. And you would have been in one of the lower percentiles 25 years ago (as an entry level teacher).

    ===

    Agreed teachers work hard. And their pay is low. But not terrible.

  • AlanSutton Salt Lake City, UT
    March 17, 2017 1:18 p.m.

    I have a daughter who was a teacher and I know that teaching is the most difficult of all professions. Twenty (or more) sets of eyes on you all day, with few breaks; each child is different, with different needs; each parent considers his or her child the most important in the class. Almost every year, state offices and school districts burden teachers with new programs for improvement, without carefully considering whether every teacher needs every new program. In the end, only those with outside resources and support carry on with confidence.

  • Mick , 00
    March 17, 2017 1:02 p.m.

    The main complaint on this thread seems to be about pay. I agree that some teachers should be paid more. Here are some suggestions.

    Year round school. This will decrease class size and allow you to tech year round and not have to worry about a second summer job.

    Teachers need to give up some benefits. Currently in alpine school district teachers get benefits that the private sector cannot touch. Teachers don't pay anything (or maybe 25 dollarsa month) for very good health insurance. The get 180 days of paid sick leave. The can retire at 60% of their salary. The cost of these benefits is astronomical. And I know that there have been negotiations that have decreased some of these benefits for newer teachers, but still untouchable by the private sector.

    So teachers can decide. More money? Or better benefits?

  • Fair Flower Layton, UT
    March 17, 2017 11:53 a.m.

    2 bits - Cottonwood Heights, UT: There is NO way that a new teacher makes anywhere $44,514-$58,874 per year! (You can go to any district's web page and find out how much teachers are paid.) I finally made about that after 25 years and a lot of education. I put in A LOT of extra time into my teaching, but I don't have any children. Calling parents at 8 p.m. Doesn't the teacher have a right to a life with her/his family? Lower the amount of students in a room and then, it might be realistic.

  • Brer Rabbit Spanish Fork, UT
    March 17, 2017 11:41 a.m.

    Newly certified teachers come out of the colleges and universities with passion and a desire to be a good teacher. However, it takes only about 3 to 5 years for the educational system to burn that out of them.

    Some quit because they are unable to manage the classroom. This can be because of their presentation of the curriculum, poor classroom control, lack of parental and administration support, or because many of the women quit to raise a family.

    Others with passion, drive, and skill quit education because they find that these traits are highly valued outside of education where the wages and opportunities are much higher.

    In my opinion teachers are not highly valued in our society. Teachers get lip service, but that is about it.

  • Midwest Mom Soldiers Grove, WI
    March 17, 2017 11:28 a.m.

    What makes a good teacher? How about: what makes a good doctor, lawyer, lobbyist, real estate agent, plumber, etc.?

    Bankers destroyed the world economy, yet we never see articles on what would make a good accountant. Politicians and writers ponder on the merits of a good teacher, as though they were the hardest things to find. They ask themselves the wrong questions.

    There are several teachers in my family. All all of them, all, have left states where they were treated poorly for better pay, better working conditions, and greater autonomy; to be treated more like professionals than as untrustworthy drudges.

    Unlike many of the other professions that I mentioned, most people go into teaching because they want to do something with their lives that makes a difference. People who choose money as their life's goal don't seem to be able to understand that.

    No teacher expects to become rich. A decent, comfortable salary, with good benefits, that's what makes good teachers easier to find, so that they can do their jobs without looking over their shoulders at the near-poverty that currently haunts most of them.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 17, 2017 11:23 a.m.

    To be a good teacher it's important that you aren't constantly worried about money.

    When finances are a constant worry... it's hard to focus and be a good teacher (or parent, or anything else for that matter).

    We should pay teachers enough that if they live conservatively they don't have to worry about money.

    What is that amount? I don't know. Good topic for discussion.

    ===

    @Shaun,
    RE: "constant criticism of how they are failing children and are overpaid"...
    ---
    Nobody has said teachers are over paid. If you can find one comment saying that please let us know.

    I don't think they are overpaid. But it's not as bad as some pretend also.

    Google "Public School Teacher Salaries in Utah and by education, experience"...

    Salary dot com is a service where you can see what any profession (including public school teachers) are paid in your area. Just pick your city and they will show you the range.

    Salary dot com:
    "The median annual Public School Teacher salary in Sandy, UT is $50,992, as of February 22, 2017, with a range between $44,514-$58,874 not including bonus and benefits"...

    Obviously they are not over paid. But could you find a way to live on $50K? Many Utahns do.

  • Husker1 Northern Utah County, UT
    March 17, 2017 11:23 a.m.

    The conclusion of the article is 100% correct. The huge majority of teachers I know already have tremendous passion for their students, yet they are not compensated for the extraordinary work they do to help kids succeed.

    When I was a high school student (early '80s), my success in the classroom was determined mostly by my willingness to go to class and work hard (or not). The teacher did not get the blame if I failed. Now it seems like the teacher bears 90% of the responsibility and the student/parent only 10%. Teachers work hundreds of extra hours each year to individualize and improve their instruction, all while being micromanaged by their superiors. Teachers deserve more respect and appreciation, especially in Utah.

  • Shaun Sandy, UT
    March 17, 2017 9:31 a.m.

    By the Utah legislature standard, I would say someone who works for cheap and doesn't complain about them meddling with education constantly.

    Another requirement is for teachers to take constant criticism of how they are failing children and are overpaid even if they do work for cheap.

  • A Scientist Provo, UT
    March 17, 2017 9:13 a.m.

    There is no one way to be a good teacher. Teachers are good in many different ways, and the attempt to standardize "good teaching" is as misguided as standardized testing of students. Only when we recognize that education is not a mass-production manufacturing process can we properly assess and promote the varieties of good teaching.

  • squirt Taylorsville, ut
    March 17, 2017 8:17 a.m.

    I would suggest that the DN look at the Five Core Propositions of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Passion is certainly a quality which is admired but to boil successful teaching down to this one trait is demeaning and lacks the recognition that teaching is complex. Sadly, until there is an understanding and respect for what we do, we will continue to lose educators. This article just added to the problem.

  • Utah Girl Chronicles Eagle Mountain, UT
    March 17, 2017 8:08 a.m.

    Good teachers never let 'em see you sweat. That's a skill that takes a long time to master. They handle discipline problems without getting the office involved. They're on the phone with parents until 8 PM in the evenings and sometimes later than that. They're at school on Saturday or Sunday making sure everything is ready for Monday. They realize standardized testing is a bad joke but they never let their students know this. They reflect on lesson plans that might not have been as successful as expected and they fix them. They realize the importance of critical-thinking skills and using Socratic questioning methods to develop thoughtful discussions. They understand kids are capable of greatness and that "teaching to the middle" is a disservice to everyone. They see things that are about to happen before they happen and they make sure it doesn't happen. They know being a teacher isn't always a popularity contest.