(EAST LANSING) — Education greats gathered today at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing, and University of Michigan School of Education Dean Deborah Loewenberg BALL presented the educational silver bullet.
”I know everyone usually says they have no silver bullet, but I decided to bring one today,” said Ball.
Her solution? Skillful teaching.
Ball is in the business of educating teachers, but said that education as well as continuing professional development and consistent feedback are necessary for teachers to teach effectively.
”I stand before you as an experienced teacher to underscore the fact that this is unnatural, intricate and difficult work,” said Ball.
She said that teaching didn’t come naturally, it was taught. She showed the people assembled three ways a student could go wrong on a multiplication problem, and said that an experienced mathematician she’d showed couldn’t figure it out. But teachers in the room quickly pieced together things like carrying errors and misinterpretation.
Michigan has traditionally recognized standout teachers. Shortly before Ball took the stage, Lt. Gov. Brian CALLEY told the story of a teacher he’d met in Detroit whose students performed consistently well. The teacher would go to the students’ homes and talk to their parents about holding kids accountable on academics.
”It was an attitude of ‘whatever it takes.’ It was an attitude of ‘there are no throwaway kids,’” said Calley.
But Ball’s point was that teachers could be taught to be effective.
”Some people bet on teachers . . . and some people bet on teaching. You can tell that I bet on teaching,” said Ball.
She also spoke of comparisons nationally, saying the United States spends the most per student than other comparable democracies, but gets poorer student outcomes. She said that many countries get higher outcomes by having the test correspond to the curriculum. Other countries also have national assessments. Both Ball and Calley mentioned that in the United States, education was segmented.
”We need to have a system that to the student is very blended,” said Calley.
Meaning that what students learn in one grade should transfer into the next grade level and when students graduate, they should be prepared for college or other career paths.
Ball said that the investment should be in good teacher training that helps them perfect their profession.
”What I’m talking about is the collective practice of enabling students to learn,” said Ball.