Change. Success. Disappointment. Still believing that one teach can make a difference. This was what I read in a recent article in the Huffington Post. Teachers from the Chicago-area voiced what really mattered this last school year.
Below are some of the comments:
Kirstin Graef, kindergarten (first-year teacher)
Looking at the work the kids did at the beginning and then at the end! Wow, how did that happen? Sometimes I don't know who is doing more teaching, me or them. There were many times I felt like just a guide for my kids, and they were the ones that took everything and ran with it. One student especially made it worthwhile. He came in at the beginning of the year roaring, scissors swinging, hitting, yelling all day. He worked hard to learn the limits of school, to participate positively, and to be a good friend. He left with a hug, and in a calm voice said, "See you in first grade Ms. Graef!" Smiles, hugs, excitement, and knowing that overall I did the best I could -- that makes it worthwhile.
Katie Hogan, high school English
Losing staff members due to budget cuts devastated our ability to educate all of our students. Staff cuts exhausted already depleted resources, demoralized tenuously built bonds of trust between teachers and students, and forced even the best teachers to question whether "it's all worth it."
What else mattered was the continuing resilience. Another student rises out of 14 years of foster care to graduate, teenagers with cancer write essays and poems, and young people with autism continue to teach the rest of the world that imagination begets genius.
Noel Perez, alternative high school
Seeing my students graduate made it all worthwhile. For many, graduation was not a reality at first. Just getting to know them, and their struggles both inside and outside of school, made graduation that much sweeter. Many students had a real hard road to travel. At one graduation this year, we had a student come up to us, with tears in his eyes, and give us each a big hug! It put everything into perspective and reminded me why I choose to teach.
Anonymous school principal, Chicago
The thing that I find most memorable about this school year was seeing [one of our seventh graders] grow from an introvert, who barely wrote one word, who never did his homework, who failed a number of classes -- the person some teachers privately thought must be an idiot -- turn into "My Little College Professor," espousing wisdom in his answers far beyond his age and maturity level, holding conversations in science and social studies classes that proved he was well informed about local news and world issues.
All of this because one teacher stopped and paid attention. One teacher listened to him and cared. One teacher shared what she learned with other teachers (including the principal), and as a result taught us to appreciate this student and his eccentric ways, and the vast amount of knowledge and wisdom he possessed.
So, it won't be Performance Management that I remember. It won't be the standardized test scores and whether we're on probation, or whether we made A.Y.P. It won't be that we didn't receive a budget until June 6 with the expectation that it be completed by June 12.
What I will remember is that one teacher...can make a difference!
So what is it that mattered to you as a teacher. We would love to read your comments below.