Saturday, January 19, 2013

When is Enough...Enough?

"Some people can't believe in themselves until someone else believes in them first." - Good Will Hunting

I saw this tweet from @PrincipalsPage when I logged onto Twitter this morning. I think it would be fair to say that this is one of the guiding principals in my teaching. I strongly believe that without a good relationship with my students, I will not be able to help them grow to their fullest potential. This is why I held students as they cried this week, cheered on some students’ successes, and lamented some bad news with others. I know my kids, they know me.

But today I looked at this quote through a different lens. I just read Kate Messner’s most recent blog post right before logging on to Twitter. You might want to read it first.

I thought of the quote this way – how many teachers are feeling beaten down today? How many are questioning their chosen profession? I think I’m lucky that I have a healthy dose of self-confidence in related to teaching. I think I’m a decent teacher. Even I have days lately that it all seems to be too much. Things that are overwhelming me lately:

Common Core State Standards
Growth Model Implementation
Negotiation Year
State Funding
Federal Funding
Budget Cuts
Class size increases
Not enough time in the day
Grading stacks of papers
Hours away from my family
Shelves of books I need to read and never caught up

And the kicker for me lately? Common Core testing won’t begin in our state for another few years so the current state test, ISAT, is changing the cut off scores. If a student had a “205” last year and that was a “meets”, this year a “225” might be a meets. (Disclaimer, I’m just picking numbers here, we haven’t been told the new cut-offs.)

My thought is, why? Do we just want to point at our schools and say they are failing? Seriously? The teachers I know work HARD, they give up time with their families, their own salary to buy items for their classrooms, care about their students, and try hard to help their students become the best they can be. So much of what we do cannot be measured on a test.

My heart is breaking for these teachers. I am so tired of a society where we continually bash people that are doing what they can, with less and less each year. When, WHEN, are we going to say we have had enough?

As for me, what will I do to prepare for these new cut-off numbers? I am not doing anything new, I am already doing the best I can. I will continue to teach my students, love my students, cheer them on, and make sure they know I believe in them. Maybe then they will believe in themselves. And you know what? ISAT won’t be able to measure that.