Monday, March 25, 2013

What Drives You?

Fifth Annual Culture Fair is Diverse: On Saturday over a thousand people enjoyed a celebration of culture at our high school at our 5th Annual Culture Fair.  I had a blast watching the awesome entertainment, sampling foods from around the world, and catching up with many of you. A HUGE thank you goes out to all of our organizers and volunteers and I CANNOT wait until next year! (To view a short video of the event, click on the arrow below or click here if viewing on an ipad or iphone.)

First Annual Half-Marathon Run in Syracuse is a Hit: I also had a chance to run in the First Annual Syracuse Half-Marathon. If you are a runner, I thought this course was very well laid out and organized extremely well. With some hills thrown in, I can see this event becoming a Syracuse staple. Thank you to all of the different police agencies, emergency medical personnel, and event organizers!

Teacher/Administrator Accountability: If you are fortunate enough to have a job (or are retired and remember your job), imagine what it would be like to come to work every day to accomplish whatever task it might be but not have all of the tools available to complete that task. Then imagine the feeling you would have when you are evaluated for having to hit a bunch of company goals, even though you have not been given all of the tools to do the job. You try and try, because that is what you do. You absolutely never give up, but the stress mounts and mounts. Then you wake up. A nightmare? That is every day right now for our teachers and administrators.

When I started teaching almost 20 years ago, I was able to take a curriculum guide provided by the state, close my door, teach however I wanted to, and produce results. I was fortunate to have had success as a teacher, but no one really cared. I cannot even remember a time when a parent or student challenged me over a grade. No joke.

I was criticized for being a teacher by others in the community, because I "only worked 180 days a year" and was under no external pressure to perform while others working a manufacturing line, treating patients, handling lawsuits, and developing products were under tight timelines and had incredible accountability to perform.  Believe it or not, I understood their position even though I did not agree with their position. It was next to impossible for me to explain just how challenging teaching can be considering we are not "manufacturing" one type of product. I had pressure to deal with, my OWN internal pressure to make students perform and that is what had driven my success in the classroom. Our teachers and administrators have always had that same internal pressure to perform as well.

Fast forward to today. Education is MUCH different and now there is accountability and an incredible amount. Resources are NOT available to work with our students to the fullest extent; not because of funding, but because New York State has been slow to release the resources teachers need to do their jobs to the fullest.

Evenings, weekends, and vacations are now full of planning, grading, more planning, and research to try to find the right set of instructional tools to meet the new common core standards. Summers are spent pouring through student data and attending professional development sessions to be ready for the fall. My teachers and administrators ARE living and working the same lives that everyone else in the work force has been living. The playing field is leveled. 

Not looking for sympathy or a break for my teachers or administrators, just recognition that they are now grinding just like you. They will still outperform others in their profession like they always have and they will do so with smiles on their faces. Bottom line is... if you see a teacher or administrator, now is the perfect time to give them some words of encouragement; they certainly DESERVE it.

Enjoy the week, have a wonderful spring break, and I will report out again on the flip side.