Defining "best" can be a challenge, but I think I may have a plausible solution. "Best" is different for every student. What works for one student may not work for the next. However, I believe we can create a system that enables us to match the most appropriate teacher for each respective student's learning style. Everyone has a certain modality in which they learn best. It is possible their preferred mode of learning varies from subject to subject. For example, I love listening to a great history lecture, but a math teacher lecturing doesn't do much for me. However, with technology, we are able to quickly and easily match our students with the teacher that most meets their individual needs for every subject.
In the system I hope to help create, students will have a menu of teacher options to choose from for each subject. Each teacher will provide a bio that includes how they teach, what types of assignments/projects they assign, and data that supports learning of students that learned "best" in the modality described by each teacher. So if a student learns more by listening to a lecture and taking notes for an essay test for social studies, a teacher can be found that meets those needs. But if the same student needs to use manipulatives and do projects in math, a teacher can be found to meet those needs as well. Whatever the learner needs, the learner can get if we provide multiple options from around the state, country, or world.
To help kids find the "best" teachers, I envision a system in which a student goes to a webpage and enters information for how he or she wants to be taught, and more importantly for which he/she best LEARNS. In this model, the system adapts to the student by providing the most ideal teacher possible for every learner based on teaching and learning preferences.
Maybe the student is a visual learner, learns best by doing hands on projects, likes to collaborate in small groups, and doesn't feel the need to have to meet with the teacher everyday as determined by past learning experiences, surveys and other tools used to help determine the best way for an individual student to learn. Data could be collected from multiple learning experiences each student has had and essentially help develop and individualized plan for every student. Periodic exposure to other teaching methods as the child progresses through school would help determine if the plan needs to be altered. This information plus more would be entered into a database and all available teachers from across the region, state, nation , or even world that meets these criteria would be recognized and displayed to the student. The student and parent would then have a menu of choices of teachers for which to choose from to identify the teacher that best meets the learning needs of the student.
To help determine the "best" teacher for each student, this database would also provide resources for the parent and student such as the following:
- References from Students/Parents/Teachers/Principals
- Achievement data from standardized assessments of students from the teachers' previous classes
- Learning data of students from the teachers' previous classes
- Videos of the teacher actually teaching and helping kids learn
This process would help ensure the likelihood of learning for the student because the selected teacher would teach in a modality that was ideal for this particular student.
In this system, teachers would be paid $1,000 of per pupil funding for every student effectively taught. Thus, if a teacher taught 100 students well they would earn $100,000. This would increase teacher pay, but more importantly more students would learn at a higher rate. It is the best of both worlds.
I know this isn't the perfect system. I understand there are other factors that impact student learning. But I also believe the most important factor in determining student success is the quality of instruction the student receives. Why not expose every student to the very best teachers throughout the nation instead of just exposing them to the teachers in the building the student happens to attend.
Skeptics will say that we can never find the ideal partnerships using this system because there will be students that don't care no matter who the teacher is, or there are parents out there that won't provide the support needed, or students won't take my class because I make them work to hard, or whatever other reason we have all heard before. Don't we already deal with issues now that make educating some of the kids we see difficult. No matter what system we have, there are going to be challenges. Some teachers give in to these hurdles, but great teachers are able to overcome those challenges.
The database helps the student say, "I learn best by____________, ____________, __________"(fill in the blanks), and I say, "We have a teacher for that."