Dear AUSD Community:
Please join me in acknowledging our teachers and their work during this National Teacher Appreciation Week. While observations like these cannot gloss over the many ways in which the art and science of teaching is still in many ways undervalued, taking time to recognize our teachers, and the complexities involved in them doing their jobs well, is well worth our time.
And perhaps these acknowledgments should be less about platitudes and more of a reminder for us all, on a personal, local, state, and national level, to reflect on our commitment to our teachers, and how that might extend to the talent of the next generation that we very much need to recruit to this vital work with kids in the future.
There is frequently a surplus of talk about data in educational discussions, and while I personally believe there is value in those discussions, we often miss the other data sets that our teachers are working with closely and in real time each day at a sometimes-exhausting pace. That “street data,” to borrow a phrase from authors Shane Safir and Jamila Dugan, consists of equally critical indicators that teachers analyze hourly.
That data is not just assessment outcomes, discussion participation, or quiz results -which are no doubt important- but also include students’ demeanor and body language, the personal challenges students may be experiencing that create barriers to their learning, or, on the positive side, the spontaneous responses and expressions of student engagement that validate a well-crafted lesson or creative activity for a teacher in a way that my words cannot.
Our teachers and their gifts and efforts regularly remind us that the students with the mightiest challenges can work through their weaknesses (which we all have in spades) if we can help them find their own strengths no matter how obscured they may be at a given moment.
We can, and should, myself included, continue to work on getting better at listening to our teachers’ perspectives, on understanding the challenges and constraints they need support with, on working together toward better compensation through advocacy and prioritization, and by reminding ourselves regularly of the absolutely central role our teachers' work and their classrooms play in our schools, community, and most notably, our students’ lives.
Thank you, teachers. For the hours spent planning and grading that few people see. For the relationships and connections you sustain that are the prerequisites to authentic and deeper learning and understanding, and for the countless other ways you work to support the developing hearts and minds that look to you and depend on you daily.
Alameda Unified School District