18 August 2011

I can't get no.....

As I settle into my new job, I'm struck with a realization I was also struck with when I moved to Colorado Springs lo those many years ago. That realization is that most teachers, no matter where they are, are a lot like Mick Jagger. Before you spazz out, I'm not saying that we're all rock stars, or coked out of our brains, or sleeping with supermodels.

My reason for comparing myself and my coworkers to rock royalty is that we have the same problem: crowds of screaming women follow us everywhere we can't get no satisfaction.

I know what you're thinking. You're about to click away to another blog because you think this is going to be a rant about pay. It isn't. Ok, it'll be about the satisfaction that would come from beating a student. Nope. Adequate facilities? Not this time. Administrators who care about the same things we care about? Some other time.

Nope. We're never satisfied with our students. We always want them to do better. Hell, it's why we teach. We're never happy with the work they do. We always want more from them. I've never been in a meeting yet where teachers think that kids come to them prepared. The place I work now, every single freshman can and does take good Cornell-style notes. At my previous two schools this would have been a miracle. Here? Teachers are worried that the students don't know how to use those notes.

I'm thrilled by this revelation. It proves to me what I've been saying all along. Good teachers teach not for money, or prestige, or higher test scores. They teach to push kids. They teach to expand minds. They teach so that those kids can make a positive impact on the world.

However, there is a dark side to this lack of satisfaction. The more subjects are standardized tested, and the more weight is put on those scores, the more the lack of satisfaction is about reaching higher scores. This would be great if the tests measured learning, but too often they do not. Too often they measure how effective the teacher has been at test prep. Or, in reformer Michelle Rhee's case, how effective they are at cheating

That's sad. But until the testing goes away, or the tests get better, I fear it's the direction we're headed. 

And I, for one, am not satisfied with that.

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