As a teacher, I love what I do and I do what I love. Like all jobs, I have good days and bad, days where I’m behind the ball from the beginning or days where things are firing on all cylinders. But most importantly, I love seeing my students. They are my kids, each and every one of them, and am always amazed at their resilience to the things that go on in their world.
Yet, I see their world changing because of those who’ve never been in classrooms, and never plan on stepping foot there. I’ll say this right up front: evaluate me, see what I can do, I don’t mind. I want to prove that yes, I’m deserving of being in this classroom with my students. But as I watch this push for more and more testing, my stomach churns. Is it reasonable for my students on one given day, to prove what they know? Is it reasonable for my career, my livelihood to be based on a score from a child who didn’t eat breakfast? Who had to watch Mom and Dad lose their jobs, and now is working to help support the family? Who knows that the test is timed so they answer “b” on each question because they’ve never finished a test before? Extreme examples, but examples I’ve either seen or have been shared with me during my 16 years in the classroom. On a side note, how did 16 years ever go by so fast?!?
I watch the political bantering on my Twitter feed: “I support value-added scores!” “We shouldn’t teach to the test!” “We need to send a message!” “Those who can do….” Ok, maybe not that last one, but you get the idea. 🙂 There’s a lot of political rhetoric being floated about my job, the job I love, the job I lose sleep over because of the students in my room and what they need to know. My daughters are both middle schoolers, and both have said they love the learning that goes on, love the interactions with teacher and classmates, yet none of that makes a difference on their standardized tests. These girls have figured this out, why can’t those who are supposedly in charge?!? We are taking these beautiful inquisitive minds, and telling them that what’s important isn’t what they are doing, but what blanks they can fill in.
Now, some will say “what is your solution?” Fine, my solution, get my principal time to come into my room more often, and let me video tape my own lessons, critique myself, allow the principal to see, then discuss, every other year. I think for most principals, if they have a rotation of half the staff each year, they could do this, and then part of the responsibility for the evaluation falls on me as well. Is it fool proof, of course not! But it’s a start. Given the right tools, I could evaluate myself finding the good, bad, and ugly of each lesson, and do it in a manner that probably more critical vs. what a principal might do.
Leave the politics, the Red State/Blue State, I’m right/no I’m right, Donkey/Elephant garbage at the door of the assembly as you walk in. If it’s done with a student’s best interest in mind, so be it. But please don’t let your political ideology destroy what little trust teachers have in you. Teachers have had the rug pulled out from under them too many times all ready.
Note: I’ve written, rewritten, deleted and come back to this post at least a dozen times. I truly am conflicted on this because I see the good in reforming what we do, yet, watching it become political instead makes me stay up to late thinking about it! 🙂