American RadioWorks |
teaching-teachers

Teaching Teachers

Research shows good teaching makes a big difference in how much kids learn. But the United States lacks an effective system for training new teachers or helping them get better once they're on the job. This documentary examines why, and asks what it would take to improve American teaching on a wide scale. We meet researchers who are trying to understand what makes teaching complex, and how to determine whether someone is ready to be a teacher. We also visit U.S. schools that are taking a page from Japan and radically rethinking the way they approach the idea of teacher improvement.

Recent Posts

  • 08.27.15

    An American way of teaching

    In 1993, a group of researchers set out to do something that had never been done before. They would hire a videographer to travel across the United States and record a random sample of eighth-grade math classes. What they found revealed a lot about American teaching.
  • 08.27.15

    Rethinking teacher preparation

    In the United States, teaching isn't treated as a profession that requires extensive training like law or medicine. Teaching is seen as something you can figure out on your own, if you have a natural gift for it. But looking for gifted people won't work to fill the nation's classrooms with teachers who know what they're doing.
  • 08.27.15

    A different approach to teacher learning: Lesson study

    In the United States, we tend to think that improving education is about improving teachers - recruiting better ones, firing bad ones. But the Japanese think about improving teaching. It's a very different idea.
  • 08.27.15

    Thinking about math from someone else’s perspective

    "What you do when you’re teaching is you think about other people’s thinking. You don’t think about your own thinking; you think what other people think. That’s really hard." -Deborah Ball

American RadioWorks |
teaching-teachers

Teaching Teachers

Research shows good teaching makes a big difference in how much kids learn. But the United States lacks an effective system for training new teachers or helping them get better once they're on the job. This documentary examines why, and asks what it would take to improve American teaching on a wide scale. We meet researchers who are trying to understand what makes teaching complex, and how to determine whether someone is ready to be a teacher. We also visit U.S. schools that are taking a page from Japan and radically rethinking the way they approach the idea of teacher improvement.

Recent Posts

  • 08.27.15

    An American way of teaching

    In 1993, a group of researchers set out to do something that had never been done before. They would hire a videographer to travel across the United States and record a random sample of eighth-grade math classes. What they found revealed a lot about American teaching.
  • 08.27.15

    Rethinking teacher preparation

    In the United States, teaching isn't treated as a profession that requires extensive training like law or medicine. Teaching is seen as something you can figure out on your own, if you have a natural gift for it. But looking for gifted people won't work to fill the nation's classrooms with teachers who know what they're doing.
  • 08.27.15

    A different approach to teacher learning: Lesson study

    In the United States, we tend to think that improving education is about improving teachers - recruiting better ones, firing bad ones. But the Japanese think about improving teaching. It's a very different idea.
  • 08.27.15

    Thinking about math from someone else’s perspective

    "What you do when you’re teaching is you think about other people’s thinking. You don’t think about your own thinking; you think what other people think. That’s really hard." -Deborah Ball


Adoption stories


Heather Shirey
Faribault, MN

Birth Country: CN
Decade of adoption: 2000 or later

Naomi arrived in Guangzhou late in the evening, tired and uncomfortable. She was a nine-month old dressed in a tiny little outfit made for a newborn baby. She was put in the arms of her new parents. She didn't cry, and she didn't look back at the women who brought her to Guangzhou. Had they been her caregivers for months? Did she know them well?

A month ago, we woke up in Beijing. We tried to make conversation and think about other things on the long flight. We checked into our hotel room and laughed and cried over the crib in the room. It didn't seem possible. We packed our diaper bag and got on a bus, knowing that we would be returning with a baby in our arms. We celebrated and took pictures as we watched three new families being formed. We wept and worried when we heard three babies, ours included, had not arrived. We waited and waited and wondered and stewed. We bought diapers and formula. We had a dark, seething dinner and feared that something had gone wrong. We watched the news on TV and tried to focus on disaster in the world as a distraction. We passed through the longest six hours in history. We went to another room and our baby was placed in our arms. We recognized her the moment we saw her. It was the most natural moment in the world and we knew we would never let her go.

We carried a quiet baby to our room. She cried a little as we struggled to take off that tiny dress. We felt like idiots for not being able to undress our baby without making her cry. We thought about cutting it off, or perhaps just leaving her in it until the morning in order to spare her the trauma caused by our ineptitude. Finally, we undressed her and redressed her in striped pajamas with a duck on the pocket. Her feet were too long and her toes got scrunched up. She was very quiet. We waited for her to make a sound. We gave her a stuffed bunny, which she rejected. We didn't know yet that she'd have been happier with a terry cloth washcloth. She fell asleep on her baba's chest. It was 10:00. We laid in bed and smiled. We didn't sleep all night and stayed busy checking every few minutes to make sure she was still okay. When she cried at five in the morning, I said it was the most beautiful sound I'd ever heard.

Today we've been with Naomi for one month. She says "uh-oh" all day long, sometimes even in the right context. She practices walking and groves to her favorite music, a Swahili children's song. She eats bananas and oatmeal and beans and carrots and yogurt and everything we give her. She has two new teeth and bites my finger all the time to show me. She is shy of strangers, but warms up and reveals herself as an entertainer. She shows us new things she discovers, her eyes alive with excitement. She loves people who wear glasses. She sings baby songs and babbles all of the time. She naps like a cat, awakening at the tiniest sound, afraid to miss out on anything.

A month ago, Naomi woke surrounded by the sounds of China. The subtle tones of the language filled her ears. The people she saw had faces that looked more like hers. Now she is in Minnesota, a land of Scandanavian giants. We speak English almost all of the time with her, reading the occasional book in Czech, Portuguese or Mandarin. There are things she has lost even as she has gained her new family.



Back to Adoption Stories


American RadioWorks |
teaching-teachers

Teaching Teachers

Research shows good teaching makes a big difference in how much kids learn. But the United States lacks an effective system for training new teachers or helping them get better once they're on the job. This documentary examines why, and asks what it would take to improve American teaching on a wide scale. We meet researchers who are trying to understand what makes teaching complex, and how to determine whether someone is ready to be a teacher. We also visit U.S. schools that are taking a page from Japan and radically rethinking the way they approach the idea of teacher improvement.

Recent Posts

  • 08.27.15

    An American way of teaching

    In 1993, a group of researchers set out to do something that had never been done before. They would hire a videographer to travel across the United States and record a random sample of eighth-grade math classes. What they found revealed a lot about American teaching.
  • 08.27.15

    Rethinking teacher preparation

    In the United States, teaching isn't treated as a profession that requires extensive training like law or medicine. Teaching is seen as something you can figure out on your own, if you have a natural gift for it. But looking for gifted people won't work to fill the nation's classrooms with teachers who know what they're doing.
  • 08.27.15

    A different approach to teacher learning: Lesson study

    In the United States, we tend to think that improving education is about improving teachers - recruiting better ones, firing bad ones. But the Japanese think about improving teaching. It's a very different idea.
  • 08.27.15

    Thinking about math from someone else’s perspective

    "What you do when you’re teaching is you think about other people’s thinking. You don’t think about your own thinking; you think what other people think. That’s really hard." -Deborah Ball