“Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much.” ~ Blaise Pascal
Last spring, at the Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project Saturday Reunion, Lucy Calkins urged the thousands of teachers gathered at Riverside Church to be supportive of our colleagues and to treat one another with kindness through this tumultuous time in education.
The importance of maintaining this kind of positive attitude is being felt in schools across the country this fall. In Connecticut, where I teach, the state’s new teacher evaluation system is being rolled out this year. Teacher’s are now required to have five goals: two Student Learning Objectives (SLO’s), one Professional Growth Goal (linked to the Connecticut Common Core of Teaching Rubric), a whole-school goal linked to last year’s state assessment results, and a goal related to feedback from a parent survey. These have to be submitted by October 15. Needless to say, this is causing some stress.
And yet, as I meet with my colleagues each day to work on these goals, we feel a sense of accomplishment. As we read through writing samples, we learn more about our students and our writing goals become clear. We read and reread the standards, and our understanding deepens. Our unit plans begin to take shape, and we realize that we can do this. We are doing it. Together.