A Final Teaching Thought


OK, I promise. I really am ready to let it go.

Or at least, I’m ready to try to get ready to let it go.  (Sorry about the “Frozen” song now embedded in your brain).

I won’t keep ruminating on the sudden abrupt end of my teaching life.

But I do have one final thing to say, and it is about “data”.

If you are a teacher, you know that you are now expected to gather reams of “data points” on each child. Test scores, retest scores, reading levels, spelling levels, writing rubrics, formative assessments, summative assessments, standardized test scores. You are supposed to use all of this data as “evidence” to prove that the kids have improved.  In other words, to prove that you have done your job.  Without this data, in theory, the parents of your students will not know that their children have grown or improved under your care.

So over the past few years, I’ve done my best to gather data.  This year, in particular, it was made clear to me that I had better come up with reams of hard data about each child.  So I gathered information, I scored work and tests and retests, and I graphed it, recorded it, kept it in a spreadsheet.  I had rubrics, score sheets, explanations and bar graphs.  I had all of this “evidence” at my fingertips as I got ready for my end-of-year conferences.

And guess what?

I had 23 conferences.  I spent 45 minutes with each set of parents.  I had parents tell  me, “You know my child so well!”  and “We can’t believe how much he has grown and matured this year!”   I had one Mom tell me, “No one has ever understood her and her learning style as well as you do.”

I’m not trying to brag, although I am delighted and proud that these parents feel that way about my teaching.   What I’m trying to say is this:

Not only did I complete 23 conferences without having one single person ask me for my data, but all 23 sets of parents declined when I offered to show them my graphs and spreadsheets and scores.

They don’t see their kids as a collection of numerical scores.

And neither do I.

Goodbye, teaching life.  It was wonderful while it lasted.

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12 thoughts on “A Final Teaching Thought

  1. In the medical research I do, we use a lot of data. But the data is always “de-identified” because you don’t want to allow researchers to know the identities of the people behind the data. In addition to privacy issues, there is a whole host of reasons why we de-identify. It makes sense because we are only looking at raw data not people.

    But there is a world of difference between working with individuals and trying to see patterns in huge groups. With individuals you need to find the individuality and nurture it, for crying out loud. Exactly the opposite of what data is used for.

    I’m glad you spent most of your time nurturing.

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  2. Years ago our K-6 students’ teachers all wrote long narratives to report on each child they taught. Then, about ten years ago(?), some parents complained that they wanted grades to “really” know how their children were performing. They wanted their 5-6 grade children to be prepared for high school where they would only receive grades and a once a year (in the fall) five minute “meet and greet” conference with each of their teachers. Amazingly, parents of 5-6 graders today complain that they don’t get enough information about their children although technology now puts teachers on call 24/7. I so loved those narratives and the sit-down conferences we had twice a year with our children’s teachers. They really did know them quite well.

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  3. Enjoy your retirement. I’m sure in time you’ll enjoy it and the rest. I can’t imagine you will not use what you have learned in some way in your future.
    I’ve loved reading your teaching insights. You are a real loss to any school.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, wow…..I just know that it is going to be hard to let go of my training and my years of experience. You know, when you see something very cool, and you think, “Next year I will…….” Sad not to have that any more!

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