School Days

As many students in the United States begin a new academic year, we can ask what good all of our effort to build schools and pay teachers and organize calendars actually does. Researchers have asked questions about teaching efficacy for a while now, but you might not realize what a rich discussion they have had about what those questions should be. What exactly are the effects of good teaching? How can we assess those effects?

We recently had a chance to talk with an educational researcher who has worked hard to look for evidence of the long-term effects of teaching on people. Julie Schmidt Hasson has spent her career teaching and also investigating teaching. She is a professor at Appalachian State University and author of Safe, Seen, and Stretched in the Classroom: The Remarkable Ways Teachers Shape Students’ Lives. Talking with Julie makes it clear how much she cares about teaching and how much more effort we need to put into ensuring that teachers feel supported in creating spaces and opportunities for our children.

Interviews like the one we recorded with Julie underscore the human side of educational research and the value of research projects in improving the education we offer our children. In Julie’s stories of people recounting teachers who mattered it is easy to hear echoes of thoughts and insights she has had as a student herself and as a teacher and principal. Reflecting on one’s own personal insights and passions and balancing that with the need to document and carefully weigh empirical evidence comprises the essence of much social science research.

You can hear Julie’s interview here.

Teacher walking with students
Photo by Bicanski (available through Creative Commons)
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