Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My Job When It Matters

Yesterday I wrote about what society expects of me as a teacher. What I didn't mention there, but came to mind as I reread what I wrote is that those societal expectations all come down to getting my kiddos to pass standardized tests.

However, when society comes in contact with schools, because they have children there or volunteer or something that brings them in, their expectations change. Those instructional expectations remain, although they may not be quite as powerful, but they are joined by other expectations.

When school stops being purely theoretical, as it is for most newscasters and politicians, different things matter. Students are people rather than standardized test scores. Parents want me to care about their children. This looks different for every parent and child. It might be supporting a shy student to help them find their voice in the classroom. It might be making sure a child is wearing their glasses everyday. It might be reminding a student to make eye contact as they talk to me. It might be making sure they don't get anything with meat in it at lunch. It might be listening to their stories when they walk in each morning.

Some of these expectations are ones parents specifically ask about, such as the glasses or eye contact or meatless meals. Other expectations are never voiced aloud, may not even be conscious thoughts for the parents. But they are there and they are important.

This part of my job is about really knowing each student. Not just what they can and can't do academically, but who they are. Without this the academics don't happen.

More tomorrow...


Jill Fisch said...

Loving this series. So right on.

Anonymous said...

Loving this series too. I don't think people realize how much we asks teachers to do both explicitly and implicitly. It is no small task to be an effect teacher.
I'm looking forward to more!

Jenny said...

Jill, thank you. For some reason this has been on my mind a lot but getting it into words the way I want has been a challenge (and I'm not sure it's right even now!).

Shannon, thanks for your words. I completely agree but I'm finding it surprisingly hard to express, the way I want to, what is asked of teachers.