Anyway... I was thinking about the labels we use to evaluate teachers. To tell the truth, I don't even know what the first two (of four) are on the Danielson rubric, but the next two are "proficient" and "distinguished." These are the two where we want to be. Some teachers like to talk about other teachers and where they fall on the spectrum. I heard from a teacher friend of mine that I was "distinguished." Really? It was news to me!! (Oh, how I can't stand rumors!)
Some educators want feedback in order to grow further - if we're not "distinguished" in one or more of the four domains, how do we get there? Some people don't worry about it. Some teachers are satisfied with "proficient," and I believe they should be. I'll explain why.
I've been reading teacher wellness books lately. In The Zen Teacher, the message I received loud and clear was to make time for YOURSELF - EVERY day. In Teaching Well, the message I received was to not over-do it.
When we have four domains, it's as if we have four grades. If, in two domains, I received a "proficient," and in the other two, "distinguished," who's to say what the "final grade" should be? Isn't this just as varied depending on the teacher as the difference between an 89% and a 90%?
Consider the teacher that is "proficient" in each of the four domains. "There is room for growth," are the first words we think, and we do not recognize that sometimes all we can do is "proficient" - and that should be very okay.
Consider the opportunities afforded that could affect your evaluation.
- Mrs. Kirr got a grant to turn her tables into white board tables! Mrs. Nelson got one of our new classrooms, and so they had to purchase new furniture for her. Sweet! Mrs. Powell found a great kitchen set of chairs for only $25, so she brought them in to add to her hodge podge flexible seating. Mrs. Maxwell still has the retired teacher's math desks that are hard to get into if you're not skinny. All of these are due to circumstances and privilege.
- What about the extra "outside school hours" you work? You'd better chaperone a dance or help out at a game at your own school and then also do the same for your own child at his school. Don't forget your bus duty this week when it's going to be 5 below.
- Your car had better get you to school or your students will be without a "guest teacher" because they are in high demand. Sorry - your babysitter / daycare bailed? Too bad you'll have to take a sick day - it's good our after school club meets tomorrow and not today. No worries if you yourself are actually sick - it's often easier to go in to school than to write sub plans (not the best idea if you want to take care of your physical and mental health, however).
- Oh, and I'm not going to sit next to a student on the floor anymore, because my back hurts after a while. Stinks that I have plantar fasciitis due to all the walking I'm doing around the room every day. A tennis ball being rolled under my feet each morning helps.
- No, I'm not going to attend the three day, two night trip because I have a family I'm supposed to be taking care of first.
- And this year - no coaching track, because I realized last year I really have no clue what I'm doing, and it's so unfair to the kids.
Circumstance and privilege. Seriously. I remember signing up for every after school activity I could when I was young. I desperately needed the money, I could stay up all hours of the night and still work well during the day, and my parents were glad to have me out of the house (or I didn't really care for my roommate).
Consider the teacher that is "distinguished" in all four domains. How is this teacher not more highly regarded at school automatically? We should be observing her classes and learning lessons from the best of the best! Those who couldn't attend could watch the video broadcast on their own time! Tell me she has a Golden Apple already... If a person received "distinguished" in all four domains, we don't believe it. We think there's something sneaky going on. ... Because NO ONE could earn "distinguished" in all four areas. Seriously. You would be breathing and eating teaching 24/7. Then WHY DO WE STILL STRIVE FOR IT?!
Why isn't "proficient" in all four domains okay? Maybe this is the year your child took all of your time. Maybe this is the year a family member is sick. Maybe this is the year you needed that dental work. Maybe this is the year you had to clean out your parents' house.
Why isn't "proficient' in all four domains okay? Sometimes all you can work is 60 hours a week. Doing more than that will wear you out - mentally and physically. We need to take care of our own selves before we can care for others.
Why isn't "proficient" in all four domains okay?
We know we can do better.
We want to be the best for our students.
We don't want to be in a rut.
We want to feel good again.
We want to feel rejuvenated.
We are passionate about what we do.
Good enough will never be good enough.
We will always strive to be master teachers.
We should be okay if we are "proficient" in all four domains. We strive to do the best we can in the amount of time we have available. If I've learned anything this school year, it's that at this point in my life and career I cannot - and really should not - do it all if I want to stay mentally and physically healthy.