As we prepare our rooms for the summer camp that takes over the school in our absence, even we right brain humanities types run a mental recap, remembering what worked and what flopped. For teachers, it is always about “how can we be better?” As we record exam grades and strip the bulletin boards, we are all hoping that the year has been productive and positive for the kids who had seats in our classrooms, and we are already looking toward next year when we can make the learning experience even better.
We have been informed that education is all about data now, that the numbers will tell the true story of how well we have done our jobs, of what students have learned with us over the past 184 instructional days. Standardized test scores and the point values assigned to Danielson’s four domains will be computed and we will soon know who has met the established goals for the year and who has fallen short.
Even my esteemed math colleagues across the country will concede that teaching is as much an art as it is a science.
A few things numbers will never show us:
Numbers won’t tell about the tireless principal whose kindness, honesty and civility daily demonstrate to staff and students how life should–and can– be lived.
Numbers won’t tell about the teachers who labor with quiet dignity on behalf of their students, always doing what is best for kids, not just what will boost their composite scores or FB ratings.
Numbers won’t show the students who have grown into themselves, whose new found confidence makes them willing and able to take the academic and personal risks necessary for them to find success.
Numbers won’t show the strong collegial relationships that simultaneously inspire and humble.
Numbers won’t show a staff whose collective generosity never falters.
I have forgotten the calculus I was forced to take in college and I never did get the hang of the slide rule, so please excuse my inexact computations. When my instructional box score for this year is finally calculated, I don’t know where I will stand; I don’t even know what the data will actually mean.
But I do know this: when we all rewrite the history of our own school days, it is the warmth, the enthusiasm, the excitement we remember, not the numbers. I fervently hope that I have sent my students off for the summer with lasting memories and a passion for learning.