I saw and retweeted this last week:
So today I showed my AP students my evalution scores. “See. I don’t get straight As. And that’s ok.” I hope this helps them re-think success
— Ray Salazar (@WhiteRhinoRay) March 18, 2016
It was just the right time for me to see it, because I had just wrapped up my current observation/evaluation cycle with my principal.
In Ohio, we use an evaluation system statewide, where teachers (and principals) are scored on a rubric in various areas, such as instructional planning and professionalism. The rubric includes ratings of ineffective, developing, skilled, and accomplished.
A couple of years ago, at the beginning of my teaching career, I would have been crestfallen to get anything less than “skilled.” When I was a student, I was so very, very good at school — good grades, good at taking tests, well-behaved; all those things came easily to me. I understood the game of school and how to play it, while occasionally getting a high score.
Then I went to college. Wow, college. In a lot of ways, it was still the same old “school” system: get good grades, keep up my scholarship, etc. But there were suddenly so many other things I also wanted to succeed at. And success in those areas did not come to me as easily as academic success did. I tried and I failed a lot. I tried and succeeded sometimes! At the time, I definitely had a mindset that believed if I followed all the rules and did everything like I was supposed to, success would come to me. Nay, success would be owed to me! I was deserving of success! I was very much prone to the overconfidence effect.
So if I had been identified as a “developing” teacher at the start of my career, I would have been crushed. Dejected. Inconsolable. And in desperate need of a major attitude adjustment.
Because there is no one straight and narrow path to success. And “success” is not defined the same way for every endeavor, either. And success is a process, one that requires upkeep and forward motion. For example, a successful president is not just one who gets elected. A successful president is one who does right by his or her country throughout their term, by facing challenges and communicating, etc. (Not to mention that my definition of a “successful president” may be completely different than another person’s definition!)
So I was identified as a developing teacher. I am at peace with this. Excited about it, even! “Developing” is not just an adjective, it’s also a verb. I am developing and growing as an educator. I am developing and building my career. I am developing and receiving support from my administrators, fellow teachers, and other staff members in my building. I know there are things I do well, and I know there are things I could be doing better. It’s an opportunity for me to model a different road to success for my students.