What should and often does unite everyone in K-12 is the mission of serving all our children. This road usually gets bumpy and some people even get run over. But we are in it together and we forget this at our own peril. Our sometimes conflicting views should be a source of strength. One difference that does exist is that division wide employees usually work 12 months and teachers 10. Consequently decision makers might focus on ideas and developing long term improvement goals but doing so in a degree of isolation. While most teachers spend summer throttled down recovering from the past year allowing time to energize for the one that is approaching. Many teachers use this time to retool and better equip themselves as professionals. Some take classes, some plan units and I have spent the past the three days at a division-wide conference. Curriculum Assessment and Instruction(CAI) brings county teachers from all levels and schools together and tasks them make long term visions a reality.
The last time I attended CAI 4? years ago these conversations were cenetered around talk of SOLs and AYP in an effort to define quality instruction. SOL talk was noticeably absent this year and we were developing different things. The goal this summer was to create and polish Performance Assessents to measure a range of the county's "Lifelong Learning Standards. " These then provide additional and more balanced ways to see where kids are with skills and content and how they are progressing, beyond objective quarterly assessments and the SOLs.
That was where our efforts were focused for three days and I had the privilege of spending time working closely with teachers and leaders from other schools, something that is rarely afforded during the busy school year. There we all were trying to turn theoretical ideas into tangible things. At times it was frustrating, confusing, difficult but also rewarding,worthwhile and even funny. We voiced differences and concerns and navigated in a positive direction. Some of the products no doubt will exceed expectations and other may fall short. But for 3 days there was a unity often lacking in the us vs them world.
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And now news that the Board will be meeting on Tuesday to potentially "reconsider" its decision and re-instate Sullivan, assuming she would accept. Like I said, busy week.
These are not so much symptoms of change or a failure of leadership. They are side effects of the tensions among the players that shape the world of education. What appears to be missing t UVa and often across our nation is common and collegial conversations about what is good for students and then moving forward. Those lower down can suffer from short sightedness from focus on the real work of education. Those higher up often farther removed and lack understanding of what things mean on the ground. In defense of teachers and those lower down any missteps there are far less disruptive and damaging.
The CAI conference closed with some reflection on and discussion of leadership, charges as we move start the year, door prizes(thanks!) and even some dancing. We now break for the summer before moving the challenge will be moving everyone that did not attend forward. I will steal a quote from the closing presentation at the conference which I think is fitting. In the meantime we'll keep an eye as things across town continue to unfold.
"I could tout my degrees, grade-point averages and certifications, but if I didn't have a genuine love for students, I would be nothing in the classroom."
Jennifer Walker 2008 Ohio Teacher of the Year.