Thursday, February 24, 2011

What I Know

It's Thursday. That means a lot of my colleagues across the country--and maybe the world--are stumbling over to their couches with bags under their eyes feeling exhausted and wondering how they can keep up the pace for another day. I wonder if anyone else turns on the news only to hear incessant complaining about lazy teachers. I wonder how these television personalities who still have energy left at 5pm call me lazy.

I turned off the television and logged onto facebook. The parents of my little nonreader had posted a picture of he and I from the first day of school. That was six months ago now.

I remember very clearly the first weeks of school with him. I remember him tracing the alphabet above my white board with his fingers. I remember him laboring over each letter, one by one. I remember him failing every test of basic literacy.

Here we are six months later, and his life is headed in a different direction. He isn't reading at grade level yet, but he is reading. He's receiving resource services. He's receiving pull out literacy services.

As a teacher, I am constantly having unattainable goals put before me. In fact, by the measure of No Child Left Behind my work with nonreader is a failure because he will probably still score novice on his standardized testing. As a teacher, I've often felt like I am sinking under the heavy burdens placed on me.

So, what is success? By the rif rubric, it is going to meetings and serving on committees and years spent in the classroom. By accountability, it is my students scoring proficiently on state testing.

I promised myself that he would read before he finished the year with me. I promised myself not because it was a smart goal, not because I wanted more points to keep my job, not because I wanted my test scores to go up, but because here was a child who needed something I could give.

As I looked at the picture of us on the first day of school all the noise of what's wrong with teachers and education dissolved. It was quiet in my heart and head and I knew once again why I keep doing this.

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