Saturday, October 6, 2012

Rest and focus

I let things that really are not that important get to me a bit this week. And I also feel somewhat rundown. The two things are closely connected.

It really does not matter that the MCAS scores released to staff this week, (the Massachusetts version of high stakes tests), could have been better. It does not really matter that during the presentation of the MCAS results at our staff meeting, only partial results were shown which obscured/ignored some of the good results the group I teach with had registered. It really does not matter that a new teacher evaluation system is being put in place next year, one that will include a component of test scores, (the student growth profile). It really does not matter that it is quite unclear what percentage those growth profiles will count in that new assessment. It really does not matter, however unfair, that the majority of teachers I work with do not have test results that can be applied to their assessments and that many academic research studies have clearly shown that student growth profiles are not valid indicators of teacher quality. And it does not really matter that the State has decreed that with these new assessments, each school has to fit their teacher assessments to a bell curve distribution, significantly limiting the percentages of teachers who can be declared exemplary or proficient, despite the fact that virtually all of us have been declared as such in previous evaluations for our entire teaching careers.

What matters are my students. What matters is the look on their faces this week as we continue to get to know each other and experiment with some back and forth banter during classroom learning. What matters is how hard they worked, (this Friday afternoon), at translating verbal phrases to variable expressions, a skill that will help them so much with solving word problems, (but pretty dry stuff). All the issues cited in the paragraph above do not amount to a hill of beans compared to my students. I need to remember that always.

It is easy to get sidetracked with "adult" issues. I need to ensure that I get more rest during the week. Rest will help me retain my focus on what is most important about my job as a teacher.