In today's New York Times, a biostatistician named R. Barker Bausell has a big idea for evaluating effective teaching: "Measuring the amount of time a teacher spend delivering relevant instruction -- in other words, how much teaching a teacher actually gets done in a school day." He'd figure out how much time is spent doing what by videotaping teachers.
Here's the thing, maybe when R. Barker Bausell was in elementary school (he is an emeritus professor) his days were spent doing a lot of listening, but in the classrooms I've been in learning doesn't happen only when the teacher is talking. Students learn by - get this - talking to each other and working together. Crazy right?
Bausell has more to say:
"A focus on relevant instructional time also implies several further reforms: Lengthening the school day, week and year; adopting a near-zero-tolerance policy for disruptive behavior, which classroom cameras would help police; increasing efforts to reduce tardiness and absenteeism; and providing as much supplementary and remedial tutoring (the most effective instructional model known) as possible."
As I read this, what the professor recommends is kids sit still and listen more during longer days and if they're disruptive at all, they're out. And just to make sure teacher and students are acting according to script, there will be a camera in the room. Great! Big idea. Not a good idea, but, for me, at least, it's always nice to have some idea of what I really don't want to do when I'm thinking about what I do want to do.