Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Teachers and Losing. What All of Us Can Learn From Teachers.

Announcing a change:
Please enjoy this post, then checkout my new location -YoungonTrials.com  Thank you, Steve

Kim Davis, a middle school teacher in North Carolina, responded to my blog post entitled "Three Comments About ‘Losing’ a Trial." She entitled her response: Three Simple Truths about Lawyers and Teachers.

She had received her end of grade testing results for her students and felt "disappointed, thrilled, and sad." She felt the three points I made as an attorney dealing with losing, were instructional for teachers. She responded to my three "lawyer" points by applying them to the challenge of teaching.

1. It’s not about you. She draws the parallel that end of grade testing results are NOT a personal validation or invalidation of a teacher.

2. The Facts. Teachers cannot control the "facts" going on in students’ lives that interfere with the ability to learn, concentrate, or even attend class daily. She says, "They are just facts. No matter how much we love them, work with them, encourage them, the facts are… the facts. Teachers, you know what I mean."

3. Measuring your Wins and Losses. "One test, one day, does not measure whether I am an effective or ineffective teacher. Teachers cannot measure wins and losses by test scores exclusively. We have to measure wins in the lesson the kids won’t stop talking about, or the Socratic seminar that continues at the lunch table long after the teacher has left, or the note you receive, ‘you made me believe I could do math.’ The wins also come from parents who say incredibly kind words to us at unexpected times, or a student who you taught years ago, tells you how much he loved your class. Those are our wins."

Her email was much longer, but you get the idea. I want to share my response because I believe everyone needs to know what teachers know:


Dear Kim,

Until recently, I taught a religion class every school day to 20 high school students. I have done so for three years (this time) and for a total of seven years. We met each school day at 6:30 a.m. I learned more about talking to juries from those students, than I ever learned from a law professor.

Teaching taught me:

1.  Yesterday's lesson (no matter how good) doesn't mean a thing when I stand up to teach today;

2. I don't know what I will say today that will be the most important thing in one of my student's lives - and if I learn sometime in the future, I probably won't remember saying it;

3. Sometimes showing up matters more than anything;

4. My best lessons have been when I threw out a tremendous lesson plan and taught what the students' questions led to; and

5. Loving and caring about the students trumps expertise and honoraria every time. Through it all parents' appreciation at the end of the school year doesn't matter nearly as much to me as a hug and a tear many years later with a student who tells me I changed their life.

I agree with you on another major point - "No child left behind" testing does not measure a teacher's ability, nor success in the classroom. I feel it is a tool invented to justify disassembling public education. There is no way a test can measure the impact of a teacher who loves and cares about their students, unless the measure is conducted on the students' success as people, 20 years after the class concludes.

Announcing a change:
Please enjoy this post, then checkout my new location -YoungonTrials.com  Thank you, Steve


Email me at Bestlawyer@aol.com. Let me know what "losing" means in your occupation and why it makes you better.

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