The last few months, this has been my daily affirmation. I have it on a tiny, fortune cookie sized paper on my keyboard. Some days in education are a crap fest. Some days one must question why stay. After a few rough weeks of getting a negative beat down, I had to change focus. I chose to rise above. My students reminded me one day that no evaluation can accurately assess the “smarts” a person contains, the love for his/her job, teaching passion, life’s impact, or the inherit goodness in one’s soul . True, true.
How many times do I impress upon my students that there is a job out there for each of them that is their glass slipper?! Not everyone is destined to be a farmer, rapper, teacher, CEO, telemarketer, or sanitation worker. While in college, I drove a forklift for 4 years and while it was fun, it is not something I could do as a career. Hats off to those that do. I also shelved and repaired books at the local library for 3 years. For a high school student, it was a well paid, accommodating job. Now? The library’s quiet, tranquil atmosphere would be a welcome reprieve from education and mommy-hood…just not a year after year fit for me. In the end, I believe that I’ve found my glass slipper.
Sure some days the glass slipper is a little loose, slipping off as I walk the educational tightrope. Other days the shoe is a tight fit, like I cannot possibly jam my swollen, overloaded foot in for a day’s work. Most of the time, it’s perfect; everything clicks, gels, and works. Any given day I strive for the glove fit. But I cannot always prepare for the the temperature, amount of walking, or overall stress that I put on my feet. Education is like this. I can have the best laid plans, most interactive lessons, but one student or moment can change this. Can anyone get 100% engagement all the time? Will a teacher be able to reach every student, every moment? I believe that good teachers reach for the 100% and have “plans” in place to reach that engagement level. However, be honest, there are things going on in student’s lives that do not make that possible. For instance, the student who blurted out during a lesson that she was pregnant or another who wanted to openly share his recent court proceedings. While class time is not the best opportunity to discuss these life events, I cannot simply ignore or redirect without validating the emotions involved. These are the moments that a teacher rating scale does not address.
Rather than a few walk throughs and brief layovers, come join us. Engage with the lesson, participate in the discussions, become a part of the class. See the classroom from a student’s view. The exit slip? Take it. The daily journal? Write it. See all that we do, offer, and participate in. Question us! Dig deeper. The evaluation is more than some boxes to check. 100% engagement, while not unattainable, must be a goal for all. Terms like “all” and “never” are strong, powerful. “Never…late paperwork”. I cannot remember completing a single late IEP, email, or grades, but I understand that it could happen. What was it? Did you ever have something late? Probably. If we are to look at the teacher evaluation process, let’s look at the wording. Evaluate honestly. Be consistent across the board. Words like “always”, “all”, and “never” are lofty goals that we must all strive to achieve, but be universal.
So you upped the anty. Raised my bar. I get it. I’ll take the challenge. And I have a challenge for you, join in, come down to a teacher’s level (or better yet, a student’s), and see what is really happening. What or who is the teacher beyond just boxes to check or numbers to crunch.
I know I’m good enough and smart enough and gosh darn it, I love what I do. Come in and stay awhile.