Monday, March 7, 2011

Lack of expertise grounds for layoffs?

Budget cuts are what usually lead to teacher layoffs. Until now the "last hired, first fired" policy has been the rule of thumb. Now, NY has decided that layoffs should be based on teacher effectiveness, or more accurately, ineffectiveness. The problem is how do we determine effectiveness? Well, even NY lawmakers seem stymied by this task. Read more about this at

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Competence vs. expertise

Hello, it's been a while since my last post. I have been thinking about the differences between competent and expert performance, and wondering how exactly the two are different. I have the general impression that expert performance exceeds competent performance, but I am not clear on the details. How does the expert go beyond competency? Is expertise a collection of super competencies? Are there some situations that you would want expert as opposed to just a competent person? Is there a limit to one and not to the other?

I have often seen lists of competencies that when combined indicate someone has mastered something or gained expertise. Therefore, competency must come before expertise, but I wonder what the time frame is or what level of competency must be reached before you are called an expert. I am going to to back to some of the literature on expertise and see what the "experts" have to say. I will get back to you when I find something of interest. Until then...

Sunday, January 30, 2011

"It's a journey"

This is a really short article about the Iowa Teacher of the Year. I like what she has to say about the need for teachers to keep learning. I also think her use of journey as a metaphor to describe the process of learning how to be be better teacher is right on the money.

"A good old-fashioned school"

This is a letter to the editor addressing some of the concerns surrounding a charter school in California. I was struck by the writer's position regarding the use of teachers' expertise in designing a school that will improve educational outcomes, and the common sense approach that the writer takes to explaining why this school should work.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Long time, no post

Hello, everyone. It's been a while since my last post (the holidays got the better of me!) I have just started a class on HRD and imagine my posts for the next few months will be influenced by that. In fact, I have been working on a literature review of scholarly articles on professional development in EFL teachers in public schools. The paper reviews professional development programs in 7 different nations, and I am using an HRD lens to look at issues common to the programs. I started this work as part of an HRD course I took last year. I find that HRD's focus on performance improvement, training and development, organizational development, and expertise is really helping me gain a clearer understanding of issues, particularly expertise, in professional development in EFL. If anyone is interested in finding out more, please post a comment and we can take it from there. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Certified expertise

Immediately after I established this blog, Tetsuro and I had a long conversation about what we mean when we say "teaching expertise." Well, apparently National Board Certification has the answer, because they are certifying teachers for possession of just that, i.e., teaching expertise. I am going to look into the ways in which teachers must demonstrate expertise in order to receive this certification. In the meantime, if someone can shed some light on this, I would be happy to hear from you.

Monday, December 13, 2010

How does morale play into the development of expertise?

This is the question I find myself contemplating after reading this very distressing article on the Washington Post website. Take some time to read the article. I won't say it's uplifting, but even in the midst of the turbulent changes occurring in our schools, we can still see the dedication that these teachers have to their jobs and the children they teach. At the same time, we can also see how their morale is being sapped by increasingly larger numbers of students to teach in each class, micromanagement, lay-offs and budget cuts, etc. I don't imagine that many teachers teaching in these conditions feel motivated enough to continue their professional development, but I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on the matter.