And then it hit me. Of course they may question how much we believe in them. For some time now, educators, parents, policy makers, and business leaders have been preoccupied with conversations surrounding standards, assessments, and evaluations. Schools have been graded publicly, our own nation's failing scores have been emphasized, and the common denominator in all of this is, yes, the students themselves. How often do we consider how the students are interpreting this debate? Even a young child listening to his parents discuss the new assessments at the dinner table may receive a much different message than was intended. When a parent opts out of the year-end assessments, what message might that send the child... We don't think you can pass these tests, so we don't want you to take them. While a parent may have different reasons to remove the child from the testing experience, the child may come away thinking his parents did not believe he was ready for the challenge.
As educators, in order to effectively communicate our confidence in our students' abilities, we must believe first in our own abilities. Some 25 years years ago, I went to a job action protest at a park in downtown SLC. I was a second year teacher, and I have to admit I did not yet appreciate the concerns of the teachers who had assembled. I remember a teacher up on the stage with a guitar rallied the crowd while singing. I can't remember the words to that song, but I will never forget what she said after her song: "I am a good teacher!" Her confidence inspired me. I was so new at this, and I didn't know if I would ever be able to say that aloud. That teacher, 1989 Utah Teacher of the Year Lily Eskelsen, moved on to inspire more educators as the UEA President. We appreciate her efforts now as our NEA President.
|3 Utah STOYS: '14 Allison Riddle, '89 Lily Eskelsen, '09 Sharon Gallagher Fishbaugh|
We must communicate that message of tenacity and resiliency amidst change to our students and parents. We do believe our students are a worthy investment, and we must let them know that our efforts each day are evidence of that belief. No matter what the conversation among policy makers, educators, neighbors, or colleagues, we teach because we believe that each one of our students can learn and succeed.