Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Star Teacher?

Some educators refer to a star teacher in our midst.

A teacher whose scores are tremendous.

In conversations about curriculum, effort, and intent, the star teacher is mentioned in ways that caution us to think too highly about our own work or effort--the "star teacher" does it better.

Like a star in the sky, this teacher is publicly praised and pointed to as an example of who we should be.

Of course, I'm curious and would like to know the whole story.  In fact, I asked for some details and got a recipe of actions to follow.

Yet, the idea of a "star teacher," for some reason doesn't sit well with me.  I've always felt that there is no one teacher in a school that "does it all or has it all," instead I've always felt that we all bring valuable gifts to the school building--gifts, when shared, make us all stronger. I still believe that good teachers are not a one-size-fits-all recipe, but a varied palette instead.

Although research shows that some teaching strategies are more effective than others, and perhaps this star truly utilizes those strategies regularly. I know that the individual is a bright, committed, and caring educator--one I have respected for years.

Also, new metrics shared by the State provide leadership with specific information about each teacher--information that teachers cannot see and do not know.  I'm guessing that it's this information that points out "star teachers" in each system. This information, I surmise, is mostly related to standardized test scores, and perhaps new evaluation system attributes.

Recently, Tony Wagner defined "star teachers" in another way. He defined those teachers as individuals that students have identified as having a significant impact.

Who are the star teachers in your midst?  How are their stories told?  Do teachers in your environment have the chance to confidently nurture and develop their own "star" qualities, or is there a specific formula that equals "star quality?"  Does this matter?

For me, whenever an educator excels in any sphere I like to learn from their strength. When I see children respect and care deeply for a teacher, I look closely at that teacher's ability to establish relationships with students.  When a teacher does great on standardized tests, I look forward to hearing about specific strategies.  If a teacher creates an inviting classroom atmosphere, exciting unit, or playground game, I also want to learn from that.

While some are deemed "stars" in our midst, I still hold that all educators who bring commitment, care, effort, and a willingness to learn bring valued skills to the job, and when individual educator's work and effort is celebrated and shared rather than compared, the entire school benefits.

Similar to our students, educators are on continuums of growth--twisty paths of learning and achievement as we work to do our best work for each and every child.  The "star teachers" among us, if noted with respect, can serve to motivate and enrich our work and growth when their stories are told with respect--respect for the "star" and respect for the daily work of every teacher.