If you have been reading the postings of the Massachusetts DESE, you may have noticed their new campaign for “Amazing Teachers”. This appears to be a recruitment program to entice teachers to work in the Tier 4 Schools — those who are being carefully scrutinized because test scores haven’t moved out of the sub-basement.
So, let me understand this, DESE. You are going to stick with the notion that these 37 schools are under-performing because of the teachers on staff? Parent involvement – or parent uninvolvement – has no bearing in these students’ success? Presto,change-o with the change of the knowledgeable and dedicated teaching staffs, all will be well.
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Have the politicians and educational leaders in our state become such political kiss-ups that they are afraid to do anything more than make teaching faculties scapegoats? Or do they truly believe that experienced teachers working their asses off in urban, multi-lingual, traumatized, high poverty classrooms can be quickly replaced by successful teachers from exurbia? Seriously?
I get that there are teachers who should not be in a classroom — the Bell Curve makes that a no-brainer. But there are many, many, many others who are those “amazing teachers” the DESE is looking for:
- Are relentlessly committed to high achievement for all students. They demonstrate tenacity and persistence in pursuit of the goal of ensuring that every child develops the knowledge and skill necessary for college and career success.
- Have demonstrated success in enabling students to make significant academic progress. They have a track record of results with students and are skilled at using data to analyze and improve student performance.
- Build and value strong relationships with students, families and the community. They create a sense of community in the classroom that celebrates success, empower students with choice and responsibility and make content relevant and accessible to all.
- Thrive in diverse, multicultural settings. They respect and support families and students of all backgrounds – regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, language or ability – and actively engage them in achieving rigorous academic goals.
- Work collaboratively with school leadership and their colleagues to help foster a culture of teamwork. They welcome and seek out opportunities to lead, plan, learn and collectively solve problems in pursuit of student achievement.
- Have deep content and pedagogical knowledge and skills and constantly strive to improve their practice. They have a strong understanding of content and learning standards, maintain strong classroom management skills, and differentiate instructional strategies so that all students comprehend key information. They reflect on their teaching performance and seek feedback and new learning to improve.
Most of the people I teach with have these very qualifications; they are amazing teachers. We cajole, inspire, and open our students’ eyes to the possibilities that effort and a great education can bring.
We celebrate our students milestones and achievements no matter how great or how small — our students are progressing. We would give our right arms for a partnership with parents. Sometimes that’s possible, sometimes it is not – but we still try no matter how many times our outreach is rejected because maybe the next time, we will not be turned away.
We are challenged by a multicultural society, and despite those challenges, we love teaching in a diverse classroom because more often than not, we learn as much from the children as they learn from us.
We work collaboratively; we know our content; and we keep growing.
So DESE, look no further. Those amazing teachers you are looking for? We are right here, right under your nose. What we need is a little respect, a lot of support, and less of the blame game.