So……now what? Seriously. Scores have improved in many of our local schools over the last several years. What does that even mean anyway?
If all of the professional development initiatives teachers have been a part of, all of the learning community work they’ve participated in, and every formative assessment they’ve “given” students inside of classrooms was heavily motivated by a thirst for improved student performance on tests of any kind…..what will happen now that this vision has been realized?
I’m thinking it’s hard to sustain teacher and student learning when all learning becomes about performance.
Also, I’m wondering what happens when the test disappears? Where does our confidence come from then? How will everyone measure success?
A few weeks ago, I was listening to an interview relevant to the recession. The speaker was discussing the long term effects of the state we are in—the fact that incredibly competent people have lost jobs that they will not be able to return to in five or ten years. Not because jobs in their field won’t be there (although some certainly may not be)….but because they will no longer have the capacity to do the work that they were once so incredibly skilled at, because they’ve been away from it for far too long.
This is my fear for those teachers who are working hard to do what is right for their students. Those teachers who are driven by test scores, mandated to march carefully through textbooks and manuals, and judged by whether or not they completed the district required workshop on something they don’t have value for. We aren’t simply silencing and disrespecting them. We are crippling them, and we’re crippling ourselves and students in the process.
Honoring people where they are at, embracing slow change, and allowing teachers and students to lead the way isn’t merely about “garnering buy in” or making people “feel” valuable so we can get them to follow our agenda. It’s about having enough intellectual humility to realize that maybe we don’t have all of the answers and maybe the most meaningful answers aren’t simply about student performance. Maybe they’re also about capitalizing on our collective and very distinct expertise for the good of all. Maybe they’re also about nurturing and sustaining teacher capacity….and enthusiasm…..and morale. Doing business this way might mean that people aren’t going to agree with us. It might mean that they move slower than we would like them to down paths we didn’t carve for them. But when we’re gone? They’ll know how to drive and they’ll know where they are going. Not because someone told them, but because they were trusted and truly valued.
Ironically, I’m wondering if this might have a positive influence on performance in the long run…….