Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Educators: More Than A Number

I am currently reaching the end of my eighth year as a building administrator in New York State.  During that time I have only worked in public schools and I have never been more concerned about the state of public education in this country, and specifically in New York State, than I am today. Although there are many things that concern me there is one thing that stands out as the most disturbing - it seems that there is a tremendous push, by policy makers and administrators, to reduce all educators to a number.  A number that is being shaped and influenced by the standardized test scores of students, value-added models (which have not proven to be successful but we are still using them) and different growth measures.  Well, I don't know everything about teaching and learning but what I do know is that the educators we value and cherish in this country cannot and will not be reduced to a number for the purposes of evaluation and accountability! 

The dedicated educators who go above and beyond for the purposes of meeting the needs of every child do hundreds of things during any given day that could never be measured with a multiple choice question, quantified with an artifact, assigned a score or given a number value. 

If you don't believe me, try assigning a numerical value to...
  • the educators who pull a small group to re-teach something early in the morning, before school has even officially started, because some students didn't understand their math HW;
  • the educators who conduct a 1:1 reading or writing conference with a child to help them grow at their own pace and address their specific needs;
  • the educators who work together as a cohesive unit and subscribe to the belief that the children in their schools do not belong to any one person because it actually takes a village to educate a child!
  • the educators who always consider the WHOLE child when making decisions; these educators don't just look at the results from various summative assessments or from a moment in time! 
  • the educators who are excited to make technology common place in their classrooms even when district leadership or the IT department present more obstacles than solutions!
  • the educators who provide food, clothing and even shelter to their students who are so needy that just getting to school is an accomplishment!
  • the educators who give their cell or home phone numbers to parents to maintain a constant and open line of communication for the sake of a child!
  • the educators who create a learning environment that encourages risk-taking on the part of the students with their learning because there is a strong sense of mutual trust and respect between educators and students!
  • the educators who are comfortable relinquishing control of the learning in the classrooms and gradually release the responsibility for learning from themselves to their students!
  • the educators who value a child-centered classroom and empower children to develop and explore there own passions and interests!
  • the educators who spend their evenings, weekends and summers developing units of study and learning experiences that they think will be powerful and meaningful for their students!
  • the educators who use email, newsletters, a class blog, phone calls and any other medium to flatten the walls of their classrooms (or make them transparent) so the families and community become partners in the daily learning experiences!
  • the educators who spend thousands of dollars of their own money to fill their classroom libraries and get "just right" books into the hands of their children!
  • the educators who seize the opportunity of a teachable moment even if it wasn't planned!
  • the educators who not only like their kids but genuinely love them!

The list can go on and on but I think the message is clear- educators are so much more than just a number! Many educators dedicate their days to making those critical decisions, sometimes hundreds of decisions in a day, that are in the best interest of their children regardless of how those decisions will reflect on them and what it will mean during their end of year evaluations where in many places, like New York State, the educators' efforts and work will be reduced to a number! 


  1. I suspect there has always been and will always continue to be educators that put students first. What social media has allowed us to do is find teachers that are interested in learning from and sharing with other teachers.

    I often talk about how the real benefit on social media (usually I am talking about student blogging) is how we humanize people in places we have never been to. In our social media group, I think it tends to professionalize us as well.

    1. Bill,

      AMEN! That was so beautifully put. That is exactly the power of the PLN and how it impacts in our own spaces. Thank you for sharing that perspective!