Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Where's the Love?

In a perfect world (or at least my perfect world), teacher effectiveness would be measured with a simple rubric.  The rubric would have a four letter title, and three simple check boxes.  It would look a little something like this:
Pillars of Effectiveness
Whole Lotta Love!
Where’s the Love?
Working with Others

Belief in Oneself

Ideals of Education

The rubric would be completed by all educators (whether teacher, teacher-leader, building leader, or other educational staff).  An educator who could not honestly check “Whole Lotta Love” for each category would leave the profession and use their strengths somewhere else.

Simple?  Sure. 

Accurate?  Likely. 

Realistic?  Unfortunately, not in today’s world. 

With the emphasis on in-depth evaluations and constant collection of data, we rarely take the time to truly ask, “What, in its simplest form, does an effective educator do?  What values must an effective educator have?”  After reading this week’s Forum topic (and a recent article in the New York Times), I can’t help but think these three “loves” are at the epitome of effective education.  After all, if you ask an effective educator if they feel deeply passionate about these three areas, all will say, “Yes.”  At the same time, if an educator doesn’t exhibit a true love for these strands, then chances are, that educator is not effective. 
So, what makes these three areas so imperative when talking about effective education?  Here are my thoughts; feel free to add yours in the comments section
           Education is, at its heart, a profession about people.  If you don’t want to work with people, you shouldn’t be an educator.  Effectively educating today’s youth requires an ability to relate to students of all ages and stakeholder positions.  Whether it is interacting with a class of twenty eighth graders in a science classroom, engaging in a critical friends meeting with other building educators, cheering on the field hockey team with parents on the sports field, or reaching out to area businesses to build school partnerships, an effective educator not only “plays well with others,” but truly gains pleasure from being in the presence of, and interacting with, all people.

·         Educators must believe in themselves to continue to learn and improve.  Education is not a profession for the faint of heart.  We have all experienced “horror stories” throughout our careers.  But, effective educators realize that those negative situations are truly learning opportunities that are bumps in the road placed there to allow time to slow down and reflect.  In addition, these “down times” lend even more worth to our successes.  After all, if one was successful in every endeavor, then where is the path that leads to future greatness?  Truly effective educators welcome hardship as an opportunity to dig deep, prove their mettle, and exhibit an important mantra of education: Everyone can be successful. 

·         Educators may dislike policy, but they have to have passion for the profession.  Even if you enjoy working with others and truly believe in your own abilities, you still need to believe in the mission of education.  While it is okay to naysay policy that you believe is detrimental to your district, students, and/or livelihood, effective educators only do this when they have other options to try, and/or other ideas to discuss.  The most effective practitioners of education don’t just call attention to a problem, they attempt to solve it, believing that the benefit of a strong educational system far outweighs any risks that would come from being the first to step into uncharted waters.

Imagine if. . .
. . .rating teacher effectiveness was this simple.
. . .a process like this was used across the country.
. . .rating systems were built on “love” and not “punishment.”
. . .our educational system truly wore its heart on its sleeve.

If you’re proud to be an educator now, imagine how filled with pride you would be then.

Anderson, Jenny.  (2013, March 30).  Curious Grade for Teachers: Nearly All Pass.  The New York Times.  Retrieved from:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/31/education/curious-grade-for-teachers-nearly-all-pass.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&

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