The Value of a Teacher...

One of the simple pleasures I have in life is listening to my favorite podcasts on the way in to work.  I figure if I‘m going to spend an hour every day in the car and can’t exercise my body, I should at least exercise my mind.   I have this great app—Podtrapper—on my android phone and I can send the audio to my FM radio through a Bluetooth speaker.  Anyway, one of my favorite podcasts is NPR’s Planet Money.   I started listening to it back when the recession was first befalling the US economy and I used it in my social studies classes to teach about  how the banks were failing due to bad loans.   This morning the show was about putting an economic value on good teaching.  They referenced the work of Eric Hanushek who did a study that provides a metric for evaluating good teaching.  The gist of his work is that a good teacher can help students improve 1.5 years, while a bad teacher causes students to lose ground when measured by standardized subject area tests. Further, if we extrapolate this out to future earning potential, we know that students who score well earn more than those who don’t and so the value of a good teacher can be worth an extra amount of money added to GDP because their students will score well and thus are more likely to have a higher salary. 

I am fascinated by this because I have always wondered whether I was a good teacher or not.  I felt like there were times when I taught well, but I didn’t really have an objective way of measuring that.  Plus, I am not sure if success on a standardized measure of reading or math skills is really what we should be using to measure the worth of a teacher. Isn’t there so much more to educating a child?  You can listen to the podcast yourself below.