Wednesday, June 16, 2010

How Do You Measure Success?

"You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives."
~Clay P. Bedford

Today marked my first day of summer vacation. Whew. Double whew.

To say that this year challenged me; mentally, physically, and emotionally, would actually be a complete understatement. However, in some crazy, hard to understand way, I enjoyed it. I'd compare it to completing my half-marathon, except that this school year was like sprinting through a 500 million mile obstacle course.

If I survived this year, I can handle anything. Bring it on.

Together my students learned, created, broke personal bests, and pushed themselves to tackle new endeavors.

Yet, they also cried, lost tempers, hurt feelings, and made cruel remarks.

But, through it all, those sixth graders became better people, the type of people whom I hope will leave a positive mark on the world around them.

I'm a person who constantly reflects and I'll give full credit to my college professors for instilling in me this err-- shall we say-- over analytical thinking. However, when reflecting upon this school year and thinking about summer vacation I battle a few different mentalities.

We'll just put those PSSA scores aside for a second, ok? I don't care if 100% of my students are proficient. I'd rather judge reading success by how many of my students bury themselves in a novel this summer. After all, I should be igniting a fire, right? How can I be a true teacher, instilling in my students a love of learning and inspiring curiosity, if none of them touch a book for the next 3 months?

How many of my students will visit a library or a museum or use the computer to explore something that interests them? How many will write a letter to a far away relative or address an envelope? How many will question, explore, and wonder?

Sometimes success is gently tucked away; hidden on porch swings, tucked into cozy beds, or buried in backseats. I prefer to measure my teaching success that way.

Numbers and data sure don't lie, but neither do unsolicited actions.

Happy Summer, Happy Reading (I hope!)

1 comment:

Maria said...

Your class was a very challenging group. They were blessed to have such an understanding individual at the helm! Only a gifted person, like you, could have handled the particular uniqueness of each one of those endearing 11=12 year-olds. I know they like you now as Mrs. Wheeler, "the fun, young,nice teacher" but maybe one day they will really appreciate, deep down the depth of character it took meet them where they were at and help them grow from that spot. Because, NONE of them came from the same spot. Each of them started emotionally, academically, behaviorally and socially from a different place. If people think we are only teaching academics, they know so little about education. You taught the WHOLE person and as I get to know you, I know you could not do it any other way. Maybe one day they will appreciate the commitment, dedication and understanding you brought to that room everyday. They could only be so blessed to have another teacher like you again.

Yet such an endeavor takes its toll. Enjoy your well deserved break. Have fun biking, blogging, gardening, cooking and knitting the next 2 months.

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