Monday, June 24, 2013

While not at ISTE 13, I reflected upon: Teacher of the Year

I recently had the privilege of being on our Teacher of The Year committee. (I know what you're thinking: A committee in May/June, are you nuts?) No seriously, I was honored to help identify people that are instructional experts in our schools.

*sidebar rant alert: We need to celebrate our best more! I hate, yes hate the feeling that we can't hold our experts up and say "Look at them, this is what you need to do to be successful!" without aggravating other teachers and having them walk out of the celebration/meeting bad mouthing that teacher. We need to celebrate our MVPs, they are dedicated hard working professionals that understand that teaching is an art and a science. They work extremely hard and they produce amazing results year after year no matter the group of students they work with. No excuses! (I feel another blog post on this topic simmering)

We received the packets about each candidate the week before we met and I have to tell you I enjoyed reading them. Passionate letters from teachers, administrators, parents and students about how wonderful, dedicated, and inspiring their teachers are! Candidates then had to write about their accomplishments in the classroom. Most teachers that I talked to were embarrassed by this part.(English teachers have a leg up in this department.) They didn't want to talk about all of the wonderful things they did. Why? Not because they wanted to live in their silos and keep it a giant secret. Because they saw many of their fellow educators doing similar things and working just as hard. Then you would read what they wrote and you would understood why they were nominated. They were going above and beyond and didn't give it a second thought! These nominated teachers represented the incredible work  that so many do every day in their classroom.

My favorite part though, was when all the team members came together to discuss the well-deserved nominees. We discussed the wonderful things that each teacher was doing in their classroom. If someone was there from their school, they painted a picture of the teacher's classroom. We heard about how these teachers were passionate, caring, dedicated, went above and beyond, set a positive tone, and how they added to the culture of the building.

Not once did we discuss test scores...

(one more time)

Not once did we discuss test scores...

We did talk about how the teachers effectively used assessment to determine student and teacher strengths and weakness. We did talk about how effectively these teachers collaborated with fellow faculty. We did talk about how they took a critical eye to their teaching, and did not blame the student if they failed.  We did talk about the relationships they built with their students and parents. We did talk about their effective instructional delivery. We did talk about how they continued to show their desire to learn by taking classes or attending and using ideas from professional development. We did talk about the important components an outstanding teacher has to bring to their classroom EVERY day.

Not once did we discuss test scores.

Assessment and test scores are an important factor in making sure that every student is receiving the services they need, that students have a clear understanding of their learning, and that every teacher has an understanding of their effectiveness in the classroom. However, test scores are not the be all, end of education. Test scores are simply one brush stroke in the artistry of teaching.

The three teachers that were chosen for this honor (Elementary, Middle, and High) represent what we all strive to be...

Congratulations to the Teacher of the Year recipients from WJCC schools, it is well deserved.

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