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Aug 02

Teaching Tip: Ask Yourself One Question

Teaching Tip: Ask Yourself One Question

It seems that whenever I am in meetings or talking to other teachers one of the first things and last things to come up is testing.  What can we do to improve schools scores, children’s retention rates, and raise all students’ achievement levels which are noble goals, but sometimes we focus too much on those things.  I know there are days when I feel like I had a successful year when I can proudly tell someone hey my kids did well on their standardized tests.  Now tests scores are very important, and now that I have moved to teaching at the high school level and test scores determine if a child graduates or not they take on a whole new meaning.  But basing my feelings on my school year on how many students scored advanced versus satisfactory determines if I had a successful year…How sad is that?

Deep down I know the important thing about being a good teacher is all about making a positive difference in a student’s life.  Still the best professional days are when I am out and I come across a student that I used to teach and they thank me for being a great teacher for them.  It is even more special when I am with current students and a former student comes in, shakes my hand or gives me a hug and says you were the best teacher I have ever had.

My job security is based on how well my students learn and apply their knowledge on the standardized tests, but my career has been based on the impact that I have had in their lives.  When I feel like all I am there for is to get the students to pass the test I just ask myself one question.  Did I make a difference today?  Did I make a student smile, improve their self-esteem, teach them that learning can be fun, challenge them to think, or see that there are important things outside of the sphere of influence.  If the answer was no then I was not a very good teacher that day, but if the answer was yes then I know that whatever else happened it was a good day at work.  Have better days at work by just asking yourself one question.  Did you make a difference today?

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