Joining the Foundation for Excellence in Education has been the most challenging job I’ve undertaken.
My education background is in community health.
But my mission here is “to ignite a movement of reform, state by state, to transform education for the 21st Century.”
Obviously I had some catching up to do.
My first 3 months felt as though I were drinking from a fire hydrant. If I were going to be a ‘voice’ on social media for the Foundation, I needed to know what the ‘voice’ was. I needed to learn education policy and reform like the back of my hand.
After having been here a year, there is one thing that still confuses me. Our agenda includes making sure an effective teacher is in front of the classroom.
My first thought is “That’s a no-brainer! Of COURSE we want an effective teacher in front of the classroom.”
Well, I have learned it’s not really a ‘no-brainer’ for some.
I know some who will read this will say we all have different interpretations of the word ‘effective.’ Let me share with you who I consider an effective teacher.
Jaclyn Summers is an effective teacher. After teaching Spanish for 5 years in Dallas, Jaclyn made the move to DC where she now teaches Spanish at a KIPP school. Her mornings start early, her days end well past ‘normal’ school hours. Being 28 years old, Jaclyn relates to the high school students on a level that has earned their trust and adoration. Whether it’s calling students at home to check in on them, or challenging herself to push past what’s required in efforts to make sure her students leave her classroom with the knowledge they need, Ms. Summers has proven to be an effective teacher.
Brooke Morrison is an effective teacher. Showing up occasionally to work dressed as “Fancy Nancy,” Brooke is given a classroom full of second graders each year and commits each day to giving her students the best education they deserve. While oftentimes having a classroom filled with students who come from ALL different and often difficult backgrounds, she treats them as though they are her own children and finds it unacceptable that even ONE might slip through the cracks.
And of course, my dad. Mr. Corso has taught Jr. High for the past 15 years. Effective teacher, indeed. Having been entrusted with hundreds of students over the past years, he has taught his students how reading can and WILL enhance their life. Our family has heard story after story of kids who, upon learning they will be in Mr. Corso’s class, have cheered and screamed. We have also heard how students cried because they were so disappointed they were not going to be in his class. When you have an effective teacher like him in front of the classroom, kids not only want to BE in his class, they want to make him proud. They want to do their best. My dad expects their best.
My one year review is coming up soon here at the Foundation. I fully expect to be evaluated on my progress and my performance. I expect nothing less than that. If I am not doing my job, I know there are plenty of other people who could fill my shoes. That fact keeps me on my toes. It makes me want to be better. It makes me want to do everything in my being to bring my best to the table. I LOVE my job. I want to keep it.
Bottom line, I know if I’m not doing my job, I will be let go. Why should it be any different for teachers? If they are not doing their job, why should tenure protect them? What will be the driving force for them to perform their best? If we expect greatness from our students, shouldn’t we also expect it from the teachers?
I gave the examples of Ms. Summers, Mrs. Morrison, and Mr. Corso to hopefully express I’m not ‘against’ teachers. I have plenty in my life that I respect and love! I have seen so much commentary recently from people who think if you support this particular reform, you must hate teachers.
Not the case. It just means we know great teachers and we think every kid deserves to have a Ms. Summers, a Mrs. Morrison, or a Mr. Corso in their classroom.