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Saturday, June 03, 2017

How Do We Judge Ourselves and Colleagues as Educators?

A colleague made a disparaging remark about herself. I listened and thought that the colleague truly wasn't recognizing her gifts--gifts that the greater culture doesn't always esteem, but gifts that are essential to the good work we do each day to teach children well.

In general, teaching well is not glamorous work. It's not sensational, dramatic, or newsworthy. Similar to good parenting, good teaching is a daily effort of positive routines to support, serve, and educate children so that those children are able to grow and develop in joyful environments.

This colleague was judging herself by more sensational, noteworthy, superficial elements--the kinds of elements that too many concern themselves with when they speak of schools rather than the loving, caring, kind ways she works with children everyday. I wanted that teacher to realize the following:
  • she brings joy to her students
  • she always prioritizes children over other matters
  • she teaches children to be kind and to care for one another and the greater community
  • she has devoted her life to this good work
  • she elevates her colleagues, like me, with her example
  • she gives children lessons of true value, the kinds of lessons and examples that will empower happiness, service, and success in their future lives
While this person will not win "Teacher of the Year" or front page articles in the news, this teacher's silent work is the kind of work every teacher needs to reach for, and the kind of work that matters much more than a sensational, newsworthy act.

As I think more about this, I realize that we have to carefully look at the kinds of celebrations and events we host in teaching/learning communities. We have to make sure that the most important and most numerous kinds of events are events that put children center stage and events that represent the deep, transformative work that teachers do each day. The sensational, glitzy, teacher-centered events are often less impactful or representative of what truly matters when it comes to teaching children well, and this is important to consider with regard to the choices educators and educational leaders make when it comes to building strong teaching/learning communities.