Nothing is more important in K-12 education than the quality of a teacher.

but what makes a good teacher? And how can we make more of them? Amanda seeks answers. In our age of metrics, it is tempting to impose a formula for teaching excellence. As we know from standardized testing of students, data can be useful in charting progress (or slippage) over time and ensuring that no student is left behind. But metrics cannot capture the quicksilver of excellent teaching. For that, more qualitative observation is needed. Amanda explores that complex and controversial process.

For extra credit in understanding where excellence comes from, I recently checked out a book called “Burned In: Fueling the Fire to Teach.” It is a series of short essays by teachers about what motivates them, with an emphasis on how to avoid the too-
common problem of burnout. In the first three years of their careers, half of all teachers get discouraged and quit. That’s an alarmingly high attrition rate. They feel dispirited, disrespected, or out of their depth. They feel impoverished, frustrated, swamped by paperwork and meetings. They usually feel all of those burdens simultaneously.