Thursday, June 05, 2014

Convince me to stay

One of the brightest teaching talents I know, and who I had the honor of mentoring through her student teaching, started a recent message with, "I am so disheartened and frustrated with education that I thought I'd reach out to you....Convince me to stay in this because I think this is the worst work on the planet right now !"  You probably noticed as well that her frustration was not with the students, but the system--a perfect example of the consummate teacher.
She went on to describe her recent rounds with standardized testing, noting a lack of clarity in the questions, striking similarity in the wording of answers. 
But then it got real because we deal with the hopes and dreams of young men and women.
"She was a known terror in our school and came to me reading on a kindergarten level in 7th grade," the teacher shared. "After a year of building our relationship and staying after school...she knew all of those damn terms (and brought her reading scores to a 4th grade level," she rightfully gloated.  
Unfortunately, the test didn't notice. Because, of course, grade level tests don't particularly concern themselves with growth. 
The young middle-school girl who mourned, "they're not asking me about alliteration and I know alliteration this test sucks" before putting her head down and giving up, will be rated as a failure by a computer.

Convince me to stay...

The author Frederick Buechner puts it this way about our vocation, our calling,
“Vocation is the place where our deep gladness meets the world's deep need.”  Why should bright, talented, passionate young men and women become teachers? Why should dedicated, innovative young teacher stay?

They should stay because the world needs them as much as they need that world for their own happiness. They should stay because without them this world will truly fall apart. 

But most of all, they should stay for that moment, and thousands of others like it, when you know, and the young person knows, that, regardless of what a test says, they have, for a moment or longer, tapped into the greatness they have within, the power of one.


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