Oh, I miss posting on this blog. And I am touched that people have noticed that I’ve been absent and that they even want to know why. Well, here it is. I am on the home stretch as a candidate for National Board Certification. That means I am writing ALL of the time, but I am not writing here.
“Why are you doing that?”
“Why do you need it?”
“Why would you want that?”
“Why would you risk failing something, when you don’t have to?”
These questions are really all the same and there is really only one answer. I love this profession. And I embrace the idea of teacher driven professional standards. To prove that, I am seeking certification. The more I write about teaching, the more I learn. This kind of qualitative research (where questions lead to reflective inquiry) is part of instructional accountability in the classroom.
I am seeing more and more that institutional accountability is more quantitative (looking for numbers to back up and enforce policy) than qualitative. These parallel lines of accountability don’t intersect, because parallel lines never do. That’s math.
The assumption in the policy world right now is that data is proof. But data from arbitrary measures in a system of accountability with ever moving goal posts and ever changing variables will never prove anything. It is hard to prove learning and transformation in a classroom with numbers. Think about transformation and deep learning in your own life. It there a mathematical formula for it? The proof is more likely in your life choices and contributions to the world around you. Maybe that transformation began in classroom with an accomplished teacher (shout out to Mr. Blackwell and Mrs. Vawter).
Good teachers know how important inspiration and imagination are to the literate and successful life. They are measured by hard work, steadfastness, and compassion. And joy, relationship, imagination, inspiration, community, and collaboration. These can’t be mandated or prohibited or codified or data-fied. They blaze success in the lives of real teachers, with real children, in real communities.
I am in this to win. Not just the National Board process, but teaching. Education. I am suspicious of “policy” as a parallel track. It seems like a salaried arm chair sport. How can we merge institutional and instructional accountability to produce real impact? I think it begins with inspiration and imagination.
This is it!!! On Friday I heard Reggio educator Lella Gandini (at the Sabot Institute) say something that has stuck with me and is at the heart of what you are saying here, too. She said when the children disappear, the teachers disappear. In a practice of education where children are seen, their theories and work are acknowledged and valued, then teachers are seen, acknowledged and valued. In your room, you see children and promote and make public their ideas. You take them seriously and in turn they and your parent community truly value your exquisite role in life and learning. When numbers and percentages come to stand for children, teachers disappear.
Let’s not let the children disappear. Teachers can tell different stories of their children, of their investigations, struggles and joys. Documentation–in a way the process of NBCT–is a way to keep children and the dynamic processes of excellent teaching visible. Thank you for going through this process, for writing this blog post, and most importantly for seeing my children and all the other children in such a beautiful way.
With much admiration and respect,
“I am suspicious of “policy” as a parallel track. It seems like a salaried arm chair sport. How can we merge institutional and instructional accountability to produce real impact?I think it begins with inspiration and imagination.” Annie, you are right on the money with that observation. Policy is an arm chair sport when policy makers aren’t willing to get in to the depth of issues and only aim at symptoms. One of the best jobs I ever had was at the National Guard Bureau with Information Management Policy. At the Headquarters, our team, with great leaders, knew we had to know what the people in the field needed because when and if they were deployed, the IT tools had to work. To know those things, we had to work hand in hand with the people in the field. There was no parallel there. There was intersection…….lots of intersection all the time. We need people with the same attitude and leadership skills that I worked with to work with brilliant educators like you that put heart and soul into education that works.
Inspiration and imagination are two qualities that I always associate with you and your teaching. Of course, you have already won, but I am cheering you on in this new endeavor… Thanks for another beautiful and thoughtful blog post.
You are an amazing teacher Annie Campbell! I only wish I would have had the privilege to learn more from you! Any child entering your classroom will have the most amazing educational experience…. I know you will win it!
This is a wonderful meditation, Annie. And by the way, you’ve already won in the heart, mind, and spirit of the many whom you have touched over the years.
It’s wonderful to have your voice back with us, even if it’s just for a day! I know you’ve been working diligently on this all year. I think it’s fantastic. Looking forward to celebrating with you virtually when the big day finally arrives.