Let me address you all as teachers, teacher leaders, and people vested in the future of education on a serious, progressive level. Any day now, my Teacher Data Report should be coming out. This daunting reality is juxtaposed with some of the experiences I’ve gained as a teacher.
For instance, I just got back from a trip to North Carolina, home of the Tarheels, the Dukies, and the Center for Teaching Quality for a Board of Directors meeting. Without revealing too much, I had the honor of sitting with colleagues whose efforts in the education sphere have made some of the discussions we have possible. In today’s world, the opportunities for regular teachers to get personal development from people who have a similar vision for our students are few and far between.
Neglected in the spectrum of growth available to teachers is the necessity for teachers to see this thing we do daily as less of a job and more of a career. The modal experience in years for teachers now is 1 (!) whereas in the mid-80s was 15 (!!!!). Thus, one might assert that the chipping away at the professionalism of teachers has worked on a large scale. While efforts like the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards have continued to push for pedagogical expertise (and implicit leadership) amongst teachers, we’ve seen silent darts thrown at the idea that teachers have even footing with other, more respected professions.
Ostensibly, one of the targets for these darts is me.
When the news dropped that the United Federation of Teachers (my union) lost the court case to keep TDRs from the public eye, I knew I had to bite the bullet. Hard. Thousands of teachers who teach 3rd through 8th grade English and mathematics will find themselves in the back pages of yellow rags like the New York Post, and some teachers have already conceded to their lack of power about these faulty reports. The biggest irony about this is that the latest opponent of this teacher evaluation system is none other than Bill Gates. With conditions so hostile, and a system so flawed, who will lead the charge towards a profession that in effect makes teacher data reports irrelevant?
And you, too.
For, if my teaching should be rated so publicly, I prefer people ask my kids about me, which seems to work to measure teacher effectiveness.
If my teaching should be rated so publicly, I would rather people ask me what I do with my colleagues across the city, across the school, and even with my co-teachers.
If my teaching should be rated so publicly, I hope that my students’ scores not be the only measure that matters for my teaching, since 40% is practically 100%.
If my teaching should be rated so publicly, I understand I’m not the greatest teacher, but it’s a great thing to aspire for such a title.
If my teaching should be rated so publicly, I don’t sleep well at night comforted in knowing that I’m an average teacher in a below-average school system, because there are thousands of children seeking teachers who want to do well by them.
If my teaching should be rated so publicly, I only strengthen in my resolve to help usher in a new education system that believes in its teachers without caveat, pretense, or platitude.
if my teaching should be rated so publicly, I won’t leave the profession any faster because I love what I do. I can’t promise that for the rest of the 12,000 teachers to whom this apply. Bless our hearts and minds.