To the teachers who take a stand

I was at five schools this week leading focus groups for teachers as we come to the end of their first year with a new evaluation and support system. These conversations were helpful in learning how we can optimize rollout to better serve teachers and students. This first year has been imperfect and there are changes to be made. Yet there is one piece that cannot be compromised; that is, the belief that teachers are responsible for growth in their students’ achievement.

As I reflect on these conversations, I want to give a shout out to all the teachers who have drawn a bright line in the sand on this issue. These teachers have real frustrations about how the new evaluation system has been implemented, yet they know they can change the trajectory for their students. These teachers of course have awareness that students enter classrooms with varied skills and competencies, and they know exactly what can be done about it.

When teachers don’t draw this bright line and take a stand, they instead tend to focus on external factors. Some even make reckless comments about the “quality of their students” or “parents who don’t seem to care.”

I once received an email forward from a relative that made a cutesy comparison between teachers and dentists. After some context, it asked, why not determine a dentist’s effectiveness based on the rate of tooth decay of patients? All I could think about was how healthy everyone’s teeth would be if we spent eight hours a day with the dentist.

Clearly this is an issue that is still up for debate in our ranks. So I want to give a shout out to all the teachers who have drawn a bright line and taken a stand on the side of kids.

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