There’s a difference between caring how well you’re actually doing your job and caring how well you do on official evaluations. Ideally, the two at least overlap - like a Venn Diagram or pop and hip-hop. That’s not always a given, however. In practice, it’s often more like the relationship between reality and reality TV.
Let’s face it – no one carries around a pervading sense of guilt and inadequacy like teachers. They care deeply, feel strongly, and give muchly – often to a fault. Many of us are able to be professionally developed, pedagogically creative, and politically active, all while scoring way too high on any clinical assessment of personal dysfunctions.
I think it actually goes together – the passion for learning, the tolerance for teenagers, and the emotional mess most of us manage to be. Two sides of the same smashed penny.
In the same way your memory of an event will gradually evolve to fit the way you tell it over the years, I respectfully suggest we’ve been told the same few lies about public schools – then as much as now – often enough that we’ve started to buy into the clichés. Unless we stop and question it, at least with ourselves, we become one more purveyor of the same sort of shibboleth – thoughtless, foundationless folderol of the sort we mock when we recognize it from others.
There’s a cliché in education about teaching the child, not merely the subject. The more annoying version is that students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. I’m not in love with either platitude, but like most things with unfortunate sticking power, they’re not entirely wrong.
Teachers can be a stubborn lot.
To be fair, in this profession, we kinda have to be. Trying to steer 34 teenagers at a time into meaningful learning while trapped in a concrete box an hour at a time against their will requires, well… a certain amount of stubbornness. Sometimes it works, other times – not so much.
A few days ago, Jay Cronley of the Tulsa World wrote an editorial which sent legendary #oklaed blogger Rob Miller a bit over that edge from which he otherwise enjoys the view. In it, Cronley suggests that schools receiving poor marks on the state's vague, insulting, widely discredited A-F report card stop their whining and simply do what schools getting high grades do.
I'm all for that. It's embarrassingly obvious, in retrospect - if you want a better football team, publicly degrade the coach, sure. But just as critically, only accept good players on your team. That's how the so-called "real world" works, yes?