Last week my fourth grader brought home a flier for a fund-raiser. Let me go on the record: I loathe fund-raisers. I would rather go to the dentist. However, Sonny likes basketball and the fundraiser was to watch a game between teachers and the Harlem Wizards. I saw the look in my son’s eyes and knew he was very excited. This is the kind of event kids love.
We even talked the second grader into going. (He prefers watching Star Wars and using his imagination instead of sports.)
Well, the evening was a success. There were funny jokes, dancing with basketball stars, and the ever popular: teachers losing! Sonny’s work during recess with his fourth grade teacher did pay off though; she scored two points!
I enjoyed seeing friends entertain the kids. There was my son’s best friend’s mom pretend to use her Ninja skills to fight a wizard player who was a foot taller than she. Luckily, it ended peacefully. 🙂 And, the community member (a former U.S. Professional Football Player) who was asked to try out for the Wizards during the game missed his one shot by a mile. The kids did not know it was on purpose, but I know it was. His shot was worse than my best attempt. He could not be that bad. Seriously.
The best part was the referee. It was my boss, the principal of the high school. Apparently, she played basketball in high school and college. She followed the directions of the Wizards and called a “great” game. She was a great actress and my sons believed everything she did, whether it was a bad call, putting up with disrespect, or even giving the benefit of the call to the teachers. For her acting, Mrs. H. deserves an Oscar or at least an Oscar the Grouch.
Tonight reminded me why I teach. It is not the tests scores. It is not the novels, although I do love them. It is the fun! It is the connection with the kids. It is the immeasurable that no test will ever show.
Think about it. Do you remember a test score? Or, do you remember a teacher?
I remember my third grade teacher, Mrs. Duda, who let me help her grade papers and get the films from the office. I remember Mr. Collins, my eight grade English teacher, who saw my reading and writing ability enough to let me read the main part for a play in class. I remember Mrs. Collins, my senior English teacher, who saw more potential than I was ready to admit to.
Next year, I will be evaluated on student growth, which is not a bad idea. However, the growth is to be measured by one test. The day of the test could be a “bad day” for the kid. The student could be like my oldest, a “bad test taker.” What about the impact or influence I have had on a student? Unfortunately, this is not easily measurable. Thus, my evaluation will not be accurate. For now, if you want to know who are the good teachers, listen to the kids. They will tell you, either directly or indirectly.
What I have learned in twenty-five years is that a good relationship with students creates success. Now, I have to figure out how to turn the standardized test into a positive relationship.