Does a teacher’s gender affect a student’s engagement and learning?

Researching economist Thomas Dee for my article on his new No Child Left Behind study led me to a fascinating published piece by him a few years back on whether the gender of the teacher influences student performance. In his paper, he states, My results indicate that learning from a teacher of the opposite gender has a detrimental effect on students’ academic progress and their engagement in school. My best estimate is that it lowers test scores for both boys and girls by approximately 4 percent of a standard deviation and has even larger effects on various measures of student engagement.”

I was particularly interested in Dee’s findings on boys and middle school since I am about to send my twins off to sixth grade. My son has never had a male teacher, and I think he would love it. I am not sure if he will have a male teacher in middle school as most of our teachers are women.

Please read the study for yourself, but I pulled some interesting passages from it:

-For three subject areas–science, social studies, and English-the overall effect of having a woman teacher instead of a man raises the achievement of girls by 4 percent of a standard deviation and lowers the achievement of boys by roughly the same amount, producing an overall gender gap of 8 percent of a standard deviation, no small matter if it can be assumed that this happened over the course of a single year.

-Test-score benefits for girls of having a female teacher are concentrated in social studies. I estimate that a female social-studies teacher increases a girl’s performance by 9 percent of a standard deviation. In contrast, the impact in English is not statistically significant. For boys, the largest effect appears in science.

-Regardless of the academic subject, boys are two to three times more likely than girls to be seen as disruptive, inattentive, and unlikely to complete their homework. However, how boys and girls view academic subjects varies across subjects in ways that parallel the gender gaps in subject test scores. For example, girls are more likely than boys to report that they are afraid to ask questions in math, science, and social studies. They are also less likely to look forward to these classes or to see them as useful for their future. Meanwhile, boys, as compared to girls, register more negative perceptions of English classes.

-Furthermore, when taught by a man, girls were more likely to report that they did not look forward to a subject, that it was not useful for their future, or that they were afraid to ask questions. This dynamic is strongest in science, where student reports indicate that female science teachers are far more effective in promoting girls’ engagement with this field of study. The estimated effects in the other two subjects pointed in the same direction but were statistically insignificant when examined separately.

Boys also had fewer positive reactions to their academic subject when taught by an opposite-gender teacher. In particular, when taught by a female teacher, boys were significantly more likely to report that they did not look forward to the subject. This effect appears to have been particularly pronounced when the female teacher was in history.

Results in math differ strikingly from those in the other subject areas, but I place little weight on the findings in this area for reasons that require explanation. My initial analysis showed that both boys and girls suffered if they had a woman teacher. Both girls and boys scored 7 percent and 8 percent of a standard deviation lower, respectively, than if they had a man. But before rushing to the conclusion that math is a subject uniquely suited for male instruction, one needs to take into account other possible explanations.

I can rule out some obvious candidates. There is no evidence, for example, that female math teachers were given larger classes or were less likely to hold the proper subject-specific qualifications, such as proper state certification or a subject-specific degree at either the undergraduate or graduate level.

But I was concerned about the likelihood that women teachers are assigned the less-promising math students. Administrators may think that women are better equipped to handle more difficult students or that men are better able to challenge the bright ones. If so, then it could appear that students benefit less from women teachers simply because they are given the lower-achieving ones in the first place.

To check this out, I estimated the effect of having a female math teacher on students’ science scores. This can be ascertained because students were tested in all four subjects, although only two of their teachers were surveyed. The reasoning behind this admittedly indirect test is that the gender of a student’s math teacher should have relatively small effects on performance in science class taught by another teacher, especially in 8th grade, when science instruction usually does not have a significant mathematical component. If a student with a female math teacher also scores poorly in science, that would be a sign of a lower-performing student overall, not evidence that the gender of the teacher in the math class is having a negative impact.

And that is precisely what I found. The apparent impact of having a female math teacher on a girl’s performance in science was a negative 4 percent of a standard deviation, a fairly large effect (though one that was only weakly significant from a statistical point of view). In fact, the apparent impact on science performance was two-thirds the size of the effect on math performance. That suggests that any estimates of the effect of teacher gender on girls’ math achievement may well be biased by the fact that women are more likely to be assigned to lower-performing math students.

–Adverse gender effects have an impact on both boys and girls, but that effect falls more heavily on the male half of the population in middle school, simply because most middle-school teachers are female. My estimates suggest that, if half of the English teachers in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades were male and their effects on learning were additive, the achievement gap in reading would fall by approximately a third by the end of middle school. Similarly, these results suggest that part of boys’ relative propensity to be seen as disruptive in these grades is due to the gender interactions resulting from the preponderance of female teachers.

–Unfortunately, in a coeducational setting, some of this gap closing would take place at the expense of the opposite gender, an outcome few would embrace. No one wants to see girls do worse in reading, or boys fare worse in science.

71 comments Add your comment

Logic 88

May 20th, 2010
6:26 am

This is lame.

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Middle GA Teacher

May 20th, 2010
6:44 am

As a scientist, I view this as more education “research” hogwash. This is that “action research” that educators embrace as legitimate and all other researchers deem mere observations not research. I realize that the full article is not posted here, but one cannot base a theory on one class or one school or even one community. There are many good studies out there that attempt to remove biases and include many different communities and demographic populations. Let’s look at one of them. Studies like this are why we have a NCLB law that is idiotic. Bad research leading to even worse attempts to remedy the so-called “problem.” Any true research would never say things like, “My best estimate…” Let the numbers speak for themselves and then subject it to peer review. Oh, wait, in education a piece of research is taken as gospel without peer review.

I know, this is a bit of a tirade, but the root of our problems in education is directly tied to these non-peer reviewed studies that lead to one “quick fix solution” after another instead of focusing on the tried and true solution of parent engagement, teacher engagement, and student engagement.

catlady

May 20th, 2010
6:57 am

middle ga makes some good points. I liked the “fairly large effect” with “weak statistical significance”. LOL Either something rises to significance, or not. Like being a little pregnant.

As educational researchers do, the “findings” are couched in “wiggle room language.” I accept that as the nature of the beast, but HAS this been published in a peer-reviewed journal? Presented at a national, peer-reviewed conference? If not, it should be published as fluff or as an editorial, which needs to do nothing more than espouse a point of view.

It is too bad that we don’t have more male teachers, especially at the elementary level. However, if they don’t have a spouse with a very well paying job, most men cannot afford to teach (unless they have a great coaching stipend also). In addition,most men won’t take the (stuff) that is routinely dumped on a teacher’s head, especially below the high school level.

Wooten has this one right

May 20th, 2010
7:07 am

I think Jim Wooten has this one right, which given that Wooten is right as often as George Bush is articulate is no small feat. The disrespect students show is more likely a result of a lack of gender at home, namely the male role model figure.

No one really wants to discuss this, but probably the best education reform model we have in America is Wooten’s suggestion that we focus on building strong two-parent families.

But in education, our country would rather give a grant to study how wood burns, rather than pour water on a house that’s on fire.

Bob

May 20th, 2010
7:14 am

If it were true, to bad, this is America and we can’t look at gender in deciding where to put kids, libs have pretty much decided this for us.

Retired teacher

May 20th, 2010
7:24 am

Maureen,
Do you think this finding would strengthen the basis for single gender schools with teachers of the same gender?? (assuming you accept the premise of this “research”) How would you feel about your twins being in a middle school of that type?

Whoknowz

May 20th, 2010
7:27 am

I think this is interesting. I appreciate Maureen’s bringing policy issues to the table for discussion instead of just the local news of the day. Would follow up and further study be called for? Absolutely. But how do you really research this? If you believe it is going to be detrimental to a student to be in a certain classroom, how do you make that assignment?

I’ve always been puzzled by those studies regarding the effect of an ineffective teacher’s impact on students. When did they decide the teacher was ineffective — before or after the study? If he/she was known to be ineffective, then why were they still employed?

As he says in the article, this is just one thing to consider. Part of the difficulty in improving the system of education is that effectiveness depends so much on individual context and creating the best circumstances for each individual is impossible in any system.

Son of an Educator

May 20th, 2010
7:28 am

This data is probably more reflective of cultural and sociological changes in to late 20th century and early 21st century than anything else. Some children learn, while others do not. Some respond to any teacher, regardless of gender, while others could care less. This stuff might be fascinating at a Dunwoody dinner party, but I don’t think it addresses the true problems with our approach to education – which as stated, are stand alone problems, which touch education.

DunMoody

May 20th, 2010
8:03 am

I plan to organize my next Dunwoody dinner party around this theme. Wow, Son of an Educator, what a great idea! Wait – I don’t have dinner parties. Oh, well.

Okay, seriously, there are depths to studies regarding gender-based classrooms and learning that are valid and worth considering. An extension of this particular study is having the same gender for teacher and students. Maybe, if schools (especially charters) try this, parents could see if gender-specific learning worked for their child (rather than pay a breathtaking private school fee).

annoyed

May 20th, 2010
8:03 am

Another “research” article that does snothing except, simply put, take the honus of student perfrmance away from the student and place it on the unfortunate reality of the teacher gender. Really? You truly believe that student performance is linked to the gender of that teacher? Fair to say my performance at work is based on the gender of my boss or my co-workers? Patehtic…Quit making excuses and face the truth that the responsibility of student learning, regardless of teacher gender, falls on the student and the student’s parents.

wow

May 20th, 2010
8:05 am

middle ga teacher is absolutely right on with this one. my wife is an educator and i am in medical school so i feel that i have had enough teachers to at least have an opinion. A good teacher is just that, regardless of gender. Thinking back i can name all of the great teachers i had over the years and bad ones. There is not a gender correlation with either one!

DunMoody

May 20th, 2010
8:08 am

Generalizations, generalizations. One size does not fit all. I have a kid who is painfully withdrawn around teachers of the opposite gender, but relaxes and opens up with teachers of the same gender. Sure, it’s my kid’s inner psyche at work here, and we certainly reinforce the need to participate in class and speak up when necessary regardless of discomfort. But it’s amazing how much more participation (and better grades) we see when gender is at parity. Doesn’t mean the opposite gender teachers aren’t really, really good – because they are. But it is nonetheless an issue that we’d love to see further explored.

Morrus

May 20th, 2010
8:13 am

Curiously, in a supposed anti-incumbent year, most of the departing are not retiring but seeking higher office. We may recycle more than we replace. The bad news is that a frustrating 114 seats still have but one contestant. Two of them aren’t even incumbents, meaning they will affect state policy without being vetted by voters. And I have to think that we’d be better off if many had run instead for the Legislature — and cut down on the number running unopposed. Georgia’s problems are numerous. They aren’t going away. There’s too much stale thinking at the Capitol, on both sides of the aisle. New voices would be welcome.

EnoughAlready

May 20th, 2010
8:22 am

I believe that we need to increase the male presence in education; especially in elementary and middle schools. A male teacher and/or administrators usually provide a more disciplined campus. I don’t believe there is any significant impact to the classroom; as far as increase in students overall academic performance. However, it would diversify certain point of views and probably broaden core subject areas such as reading assignments, science experiments and history.

My sixth grade teacher was a young black male and a rare presence in my rural school system. He was the best teacher I had during that part of my young life and had complete control of the class. We were educated in all areas of history and had many class discussions, written reports and presentations. Our science class was held outside two or three times a week; which included hands on experiments and detailed discussions about the results. This was something that never happened before or after in middle school or high school; although I had a couple of male teachers in high school, who were more focused on athletes or sports.
My daughter has been fortunate to have several male teachers over the last four years. She is very fond of three and has only complained about one (usually about grading). They were all very hands on and usually provide activities that take the students outside of their books and classroom. However, it has been a great year for my daughter because she had wonderful female Physics and Chemistry teachers.

The world is a combination of male and female experiences; so we need to promote a diverse learning environment. And it might just help with some of the disciplinary problems we hear about on Get Schooled each week.

high school teacher

May 20th, 2010
8:24 am

I am making another huge generalization here with regard to social studies, but the majority of ss teachers are also coaches. I am not saying that they don’t teach well, but girls may tend to shy away from asking questions in class because their teacher is intimidating because he is a coach. Conversely, boys may feel uncomfortable asking questions of female English teachers because the female teachers may be attractive, and the boys shy away from them.

Gwinnett Parent

May 20th, 2010
8:25 am

The gender difference begins with motivation, plain and simple. Do the parents of these students encourage these subjects? The schools can only do so much in 45 minutes 5x’s a week. I have met quite a few parents that refuse to let their sons take piano or art lessons, becasue it’s too “girly”. Also, science can seem pretty boring to girls in a classroom setting. The good stuff does not happen until high school. There are so many ways to get a child excited about science that are not possible in a classroom setting and must be initiated by the parents. I made a point of discussing lava tubes and volcanoes with my daughter when we went to the big island of Hawaii. Lava is not as interesting on a screen (sorry teachers). We have a garden, go to Fernbank regularly, and do science experiements at home. She is also enrolled in jr. science classes(outside of school) and has gone to science themed camps. None of these things are possible in a classroom. Of course she told me that she wanted to be a scientist at the age of 4 and still has that ambition today.

On the other hand, a lot of girls her age are being encouraged to play with dolls, be a fashion model, paint nails and look pretty, and are consumed with either being a princess or Hannah Montana. After talking with their parents I can easily see where the ambition began. Some moms have actually mentioned that they thought the jr. science classes were for boys. Granted, there are some teachers that have a bias against girls in science. If my daughter ever comes across one in middle or high school, there will be some roaring from mamma bear.

Carter is a Fool

May 20th, 2010
8:32 am

This is the kind of bogus study that will cause legislators to waste millions of dollars with the NEW BRIGHT IDEA to set up gender based classrooms and now have men teach boys and women teach girls. Then they will get sued because it violates fair employment. We need to look at education through a different perspective.

Get the politicians out of the classroom. Bar this EGGHEAD IDIOT researchers who claim to scientifically conduct studies. This is crap. Pure and simple CRAP.

lyncoln

May 20th, 2010
8:46 am

Funny enough, the study was published in Education NEXT. Their website clearly states: “All papers submitted to the research section of Education Next are subjected to peer review. The proposed paper is submitted to scholars thought to be knowledgeable about the topic under discussion.”

You can read their basic blurb about peer review policies for the journal at: http://educationnext.org/sub/guidelines/

mystery poster

May 20th, 2010
8:54 am

4% of a standard deviation. Is that supposed to be statistically significant?

V for Vendetta

May 20th, 2010
9:05 am

Sounds like another cure du jour to me. I’ve got a novel idea: Let’s focus on the things we KNOW are not working.

Discipline

Social Promotion

Accountability and Responsibility

College Prep for Everyone

Take a good hard look at each of those areas of failure. Make no mistake about it; those ARE areas of failure. Each one of them can be solved by taking action right now. It might not be pretty, and there will inevitably be a backlash from some of those affected, but, in the end, reform in these key areas is the ONLY thing that is likely to save public education.

Discipline: Remove students who continually disrupt the learning environment. Stop pretending that the removal of one such student is not a dramatic positive improvement in the learning environment. It is. We all know it is. Get over it.

Social Promotion: No one “deserves” to go to a higher grade he or she has not completed and passed the required work. We can continue to make excuses for these types of students, or we can hold them accountable for their actions. Then they might just learn . . .

Accountability and Responsibility: If something is due on Monday, then it is due on Monday. No excuses. I don’t care if your printer ran out of ink. If you cared about the assignment, you would FIND A WAY to complete it. College professors do not want to hear your excuses, and neither do I.

College Prep for Everyone: By eventually forcing all students into the same track, we have done an enormous disservice to those who are not interested in the traditional four-year college or simply not capable of attending college–period. Because of this, we have created an entire level of classes at the high school level that are little more than a joke–a stone’s throw away from what the technical level classes were to begin with. As a result, true “college prep” students, hardworking kids who aren’t bright enough for honors or gifted classes but dedicated enough to make it in college, are lumped in with the students who would have occupied the technical classes–combined with a healthy dose of kids who should be removed due to discipline problems.

And we wonder why education is a mess.

What we need is a state super who is not tied to a political party and who is interested in doing what is right for the students in Georgia–even if that means doing something unpopular. Heck, I would run myself, but I don’t have the money to pay the nearly $4000.00 fee.

V for Vendetta

May 20th, 2010
9:05 am

should have known that long post would be filtered. :-)

You Asked

May 20th, 2010
9:05 am

This is not the first time I’ve seen similar results in a study like this. It also reflects my own obserations In the early 90s as I watched some of my male minority students emotionally struggle with the lack of teachers that they could identify with.

I don’t think this calls for a complete overturning of the way classrooms are structured, but recruiting and retaining a good diverse population of teachers could go a long way towards helping all students excell and enjoy their education.

It should come as no surprise that boys and girls are different, students from different backgrounds are different and their gender, experiences and cultures do influence the way they socialize and learn.

It is somewhat disturbing to see educators get defensive over findings like this as opposed to having a discussion about how the classroom can be structured to optimize the educational experience for ALL students.

Question

May 20th, 2010
9:08 am

I can’t take this seriously when all I read is “I estimate”. I estimate that I am hot enough to date Erin Andrews but that doesn’t make it true. Not to mention my wife would kill me.

sees the future

May 20th, 2010
9:08 am

The worst teachers I had in school, and the worst my children have had in school, were MALE COACHES. They were not teachers, they were baby sitters who had to pretend to teach during the morning so they could coach in the afternoon.

My son’s yearbook came out yesterday and I was surprised to see a page dedicated to the Most ON TOPIC and the Most OFF TOPIC Teachers. All the on topic teachers were female, and not surprisingly, the off topic teachers were almost all MALE COACHES. Unbelievably, there was even a picture of one of them sleeping with his mouth open during class! (Obviously, instead of being outraged, as I was, the administration found this amusing!)

But sure, lets put more of these jerks in the schools; it’s a win-win. It gives great jobs to the buddies of the good old boys that run our schools, and makes the male students happy. Everyone knows that male students really hate it when those female teachers stay awake in class and teach!

Nigel

May 20th, 2010
9:33 am

How much is 4% of a standard deviation? This measure could be as minuscule as .000000000001…, depending on the standard deviation of the range of data involved. LOL

As for myself, a male elementary school teacher, your data pool needs to widen a bit. Actually, how big was the sample?

Student performance depends on student-parent-teacher relationship, motivation & learning ability. Gender has no effect unless a student has had frequent negative experiences with that particular gender in the past or the teacher involved has issues.

Booklover

May 20th, 2010
9:37 am

Like others here, I do fear that such findings will bolster the idea that student success or failure is much, much more contingent upon personal characteristics *of the teacher* than it really is in reality, or than it should be– in other words, that teachers will now be blamed at some level for being the “wrong” gender to reach a certain group of kids.

Furthermore, as others have pointed out, adults have both male and female bosses and frankly, kids need to learn how to deal with authority figures of both genders.

That said, society needs to encourage more men to become teachers. However, this will never work unless we pay teachers more than a subsistence wage, given their education and level of responsibility.

At the northern high school I attended (one of the top 40 in IL), over 60% of the faculty is/was male; there, teaching high school is/was reasonably well-compensated and socially considered an admirable and upwardly-mobile career. There is still a struggle to get male teachers in the elementary schools, but the number of male teachers at the high school level is definitely beneficial in terms of discipline and role modeling.

Of course, having female teachers is important too. There have been students who were struggling with personal issues (for ex, a young lady being raised by a single dad and all her teachers were male) who have been put into my class because the theory that having a younger female teacher might provide some psychological solace, or they might bond more easily with me. There are various iterations of this–the kid who needs a strong “grandma” figure and gets put into the class of the 30-year veteran, the young man who is acting out because his father is deployed so he’s put into weight-lifting with one of the young coaches…

We can’t take these things too personally; at the end of the day, we need to help students but not provide excuses.

lyncoln

May 20th, 2010
9:48 am

The use of ‘estimate’ is in context in the article. The author noted that he found that ALL students showed poor math scores with a female teacher relative to a male teacher.

Since that was unexpected, the author made some guesses why this might be observed and attempted to find a way to indirectly measure if the guess was correct or not. So, the author uses ‘estimate’ to describe those calculations.

Realize that if he hadn’t ‘estimated’ in that particular area, the result of the study could have been: “Female math teachers are inferior to male math teachers.” Since that is what the pure data observed.

Personally, I’m glad he made the estimates. The pure data seems strange compared to the other results.

Future Teacher

May 20th, 2010
9:54 am

Goodness! Yet another poorly reported study! I’ll give you credit, Maureen; it isn’t your fault this time (no misleading headlines!). What bothers about Dee’s report is that he has not ONE citation for any of the assertions he makes. In addition, I saw nothing by graphs; where were the means and standard deviations? Or perhaps a sample size? Percentages and standard deviations on a graph mean nothing without some context. I’m sure he has a more thorough academic article somewhere, but pop research writing like this makes people want to reject ALL research.

Future Teacher

May 20th, 2010
9:55 am

*nothing but graphs*. Typing fast before class starts…

SDM

May 20th, 2010
10:18 am

Ideas like “x % of standard deviation,” “estimate,” etc. mean very specific things in statistics. Unfortunately, when lay people read them, they give their own meanings to them, which are often incorrect – and their conclusions are perfectly logical with their meaning but totally incorrect and inappropriate from a statistical perspective.

These are the types of research economists interested in policies do. I think they look at a HUGE number of data in general, not just one or two classrooms. I actually believe what he found is true and accurate.

However, some issues are totally irrelevant to the reality of school policies. As someone else had noted, you just can’t have more male teachers so that we can deal with this gender gap. Moreover, gender mismatch may account for some of the gender gap, but not all. So, by introducing more male teachers, we may be introducing other factors that are contributing to the gap more. We just don’t know.

Devil's Advocate

May 20th, 2010
10:18 am

It is so sad to see how hostile teachers on this blog are towards any research on how to improve performance. Unless the study says that parents should be blamed for underperforming students. The teachers here need to get out a mirror, dust off some critical thinking skills, and start working towards being part of the solution instead of just whining about EVERYthing.

Jabberwocky

May 20th, 2010
10:37 am

I’m with Vendetta…….another cure du jour/bandwagon to jump on.
All research of this nature is suspect for all the reasons mentioned in the posts today. In addition, there are just too many varialbles and intangibles that cannot be controlled when trying to evaluate teacher effectiveness, student attitudes, success, etc.
Educational researchers are not even on the same playing field as those investigating measurable outcomes ,like a the effect of a particular drug on some disease.
It just is not the same and to believe that it is is irresponsible on the part of those in charge of policy making.

Jabberwocky

May 20th, 2010
10:38 am

Filter got me again……HELP!

G'Vegas Dawg

May 20th, 2010
11:17 am

A CONSERVATIVE

May 20th, 2010
11:19 am

NOW WE ARE INTO GENDER PROFILING….just as bad as racial profiling-??

Future Teacher

May 20th, 2010
11:25 am

@Devil’s Advocate: I don’t think that teachers automatically reject all research that doesn’t confirm their ideas. It seems to me that many commentators here are being critical of the research, which this particular study really needs. However, there are some taking it at face values (like the one yesterday about class sizes) and start to freak out. It’s the latter type of reaction to research that allows bad policy to exist and thrive. BTW, while I think this research is interesting, there are a few holes that need filling before anyone can come up with a logically follow-up for it.

midtownblue

May 20th, 2010
11:41 am

As I have mentioned before, the level of vitriol on the AJC “comments” boards is amazing. Many of these comments are filled with hatred and thinly-disguised racism.

That said, my research with adolescent boys (peer-reviewed, published, and presented) indicates that these types of gender-related issues are contextual both to the age of the students and the subject of the course. I see nothing in the research being discussed that indicates otherwise.

LydiasDad

May 20th, 2010
11:43 am

I loved having a hot female algebra teacher.

Jabberwocky

May 20th, 2010
11:45 am

@DEVIL’S ADVOCATE : On the contrary.,,, teachers would be delighted to be working toward the solution. However, and quite unfortunately, teachers are rarely allowed input on policies, programs, and/or approaches…and even if they are asked/allowed to voice opinions, they are disregarded in favor of the vendors and voices of the program , as well as the often bogus research attached.

Teachers have every right to complain. People who have spent little or no time in touch with students in the classroom are making the big decisions. It’s much like the CEO of a hospital making decisions about which surgical instruments will be used by the cardiac/thoracic surgeon.

Jabberwocky

May 20th, 2010
11:46 am

Filter caught again!!!!

@ EnoughAlready

May 20th, 2010
11:49 am

The idea that male teachers are more likely to “assign reading, do experiments & go outside” is just silly. You may have had great male teachers that did those things, but it wasn’t “because” they were male. It was because they were innovative and effective teachers. Women do the same things if they too happen to be “innovative and effective”. I’ll agree that having strong males on campus “can be effective” for the school environment…but women are just as capable of the same. How many men do you know that are still quite afraid of mom and grandma…I know several.

Magenta

May 20th, 2010
11:49 am

I might have been a complete academic failure if not for my opposite-gender teachers. I had persistent attention-deficit type problems throughout elementary and the first part of middle school. This was in the late 1960s-early 1970s, so if you were struggling, you were just labeled “bad,” with no attempt to treat an underlying problem. I really was in my own little world. But upon getting a look at my spring semester music teacher, Mr. Fine (not his real name, but oh, he was), I suddenly discovered the art and science of paying VERY close attention. This seems to have had a ripple effect, because all my grades improved and homework, studying, tests, etc. were suddenly much less of a chore. I graduated from high school with very respectable GPA and continued to college. I don’t know why other kids do poorly in this type of situation, but it certainly worked for me.

EnoughAlready

May 20th, 2010
12:00 pm

Magenta

May 20th, 2010
11:49 am

I completely understand, my sister and I had a crush on that 6th grade teacher as well. I’m sure I never missed a word that came out of his mouth and we didn’t want him to think we were bad students.

yes, but...

May 20th, 2010
12:02 pm

@ Devil,

I agree with you more or less. But, I’m not completely sure if those teachers are bashing research, or the research as reported by the press. Although Maureen includes the link to the original study (actually it is more like an article in a general population magazine) and quote a big chunk from it, I just wonder if people have read the whole article, or even the blog beyond the first couple of sentences before reacting to it.

However, I do think the gap between research and practice in the US is so huge. I think many teachers aren’t simply indifferent about research but are “hostile” to research. Their hostility is on the verge of anti-intellectual, unfortunately.

Felicity

May 20th, 2010
12:03 pm

What do you mean, when did they find out the teacher wasn’t qualified? The principal knew,HR new, and parent’s have to ask. When there’s no homework, blog or scheduled test, WAKEUP parents. My child has been taught by such people in South Cobb schools. Under NCLB, a Title I school should let parents know after 4 wks of this, but they don’t. Teacher quality is a big issue in public schools…transfer away.

Dave

May 20th, 2010
12:13 pm

Am I the only one who thinks it’s only common sense that, in general, teachers communicate just a little bit better with people of their own gender than with those of the opposite gender? We understand them just a little bit better, and can “speak their language” just a little bit better. Consequently, students will learn a little bit more from teachers of their own gender, and perfom a little bit better on standardized tests in those subjects. I find it odd that someone put so much work into studying this “phenomenom”, and that it was found worthy of publication.

Quint, Atlanta, GA

May 20th, 2010
12:21 pm

Sees the Future

Some of the best teachers I had were MALE COACHES in math and history classes. I heard a principal at a local high school say that coaches OUGHT to be the best teachers. what he said was that a coach first shows a player how to do something. Then gives the player a chance to show what he learned. Then the coach corrects the mistakes by showing the player again what he wants. The player repeats the move or play until the coach is satisfied.

Imagine if every math teacher could do that for every student. Kinda hard to do with 130-150 students per day, but it would be great if we could strive for that.

What about FEMALE COACHES?

Hey, It's Enrico Pallazzo!

May 20th, 2010
12:39 pm

V is spot on! Addressing these 4 areas (Discipline, Social Promotion, Accountability and Responsibility, College Prep for Everyone) will do more to raise student acheivement than any other program.
The disrespect students show for teachers is unacceptable. My wife, who is a HS teacher, is constantly being whistled at and is the recipient of lewd and suggestive comments all the time. If she calls them on it, they just curse her out and go on their way. They know nothing will happen to them. We are doing a disservice to society as a whole by not addressing this and any other type of bad behavior.

come on . . .

May 20th, 2010
1:04 pm

I can see this being an issue for younger grades, but overall, it’s just another excuse why “my child didn’t learn this year.” It’s another way to blame the teacher. What’s next – teachers with blue eyes can’t connect with brown-eyed children? Since we’re going into a global society, can’t we focus on getting our children to adapt to ALL kinds of humans? I mean, that’s what humans do – adapt (unless you’re a creationst). Can’t we just focus on supporting children at home and in the classroom for their greatest success?