In all my years of working with teachers, I never fail to be amazed by their singular devotion to “their kids.” Teachers have an uncanny ability to cut through all the noise that goes on in education and focus on what is really at stake.
I’ve never felt that more strongly than now. This year brings greater challenges than ever to our schools and the people who staff them. The Common Core curriculum, and its implications for teaching and assessment, is here. Principals and teachers are preparing to evaluate/be evaluated against the rigorous requirements of the overwhelmingly comprehensive Ohio Teacher Evaluation System. Ohio’s “Third Grade Guarantee” that students will pass the State reading assessment is in effect. Grade level team meetings have been impacted by the data-driven demands of the Ohio Improvement Process.
And yet … the everyday life of the classroom remains untouched by the stress. To see these same teachers in the halls and in their classrooms, you’d never know the pressure they’re under. They still have their eye on the ball: What do my students need to be successful? How can I move them forward in a cocoon of safety that encourages growth? Amid the myriad of new responsibilities and – of course – instruction, teachers find time to observe students, share concerns with colleagues, and research strategies that will support their students’ learning. They familiarize themselves with their students’ test scores, learning styles, social skills and home environments to create a matrix of understanding surpassed only by a parent.
If I had to sum up the behavior I’ve seen of teachers this year in a single word, that word would be Grace. The professionalism with which they conduct themselves and the generosity of spirit they exhibit is humbling. I’m no longer a classroom teacher, but, in my position as an educational resource, I have the opportunity to work with teachers regularly. And I am continually amazed by their resilience.