Let’s be honest… teachers are real life superheroes. How often do we hear parents complain about their twin tyrants (in their “terrible twos,” not to mention) destroying the house and any patience that once sufficed for a new mother? How quickly does the knee-jerk reaction kick in before you can stop the words, “Try being a kindergarten teacher?”
A writer’s desk must contain tools. Obviously, we aren’t talking about hammers, drills, and saws. I was speaking last week at a school for Read Across America Week, and this question popped up. “Mr. Butler, what is your desk like? What do you use to write with?”
“I don’t know how.”
When five year old Claire wanted to write down her story, it seemed perfectly natural to give her paper and pencil. The bright-eyed kindergartener looked up and uttered those words, “I don’t know how.” In response, the teacher replied, “Just draw pictures of your story, and you can tell me all about it.”
In the early part of 2003, a principal asked me to consult on writing benchmarks for his school. Before I attended my first interview with the classroom teachers, I spent some time reviewing the minimum standards for the state.
If your year-end assessment was next week, how prepared do you think your teachers would be? Before you collapse or have a panic attack, there is still time, and there are ways to help your teachers and students be more prepared.
Typically, this is the time of year is when I receive the most requests from principals for “a little extra help.” For starters, it’s never too late to give your students pointers for being successful on assessments. In fact, several years ago I conducted a workshop on essay writing with a group of teachers. After teaching my Process of Writing, a teacher raised her hand and asked, “Do you think I should go back and tell my students we’ve been doing it all wrong? Can we really make this change between now and the test?”
Evaluating teachers creates the perception they are doing something wrong. “Critique”, “analyze”, and “dissect” are interesting words as well. Regardless of the term you choose to use, I have found that evaluations are most effective when they do not focus on the negatives but rather on the positives and the suggestions for moving forward.
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