Over the past several months I have traveled across the country visiting with educators during Thinking Maps trainings. Although each place I have visited has had its own special and unique culture, the apparent mission of the educators is generally quite similar. Educators want to help students become more effective and successful thinkers, problem-solvers, and learners. While the most obvious proof that educators have succeeded in this mission rests in the results of standardized assessments, and these results seem to drive much of the accountability that educators face, I believe the greatest accountability they face lies in their expectations of themselves.
Last month we conducted part one of a Write from the Beginning and Beyond (K-8) training in Minnesota. During the training the consultant, Dr. Brenda Baker, asked the group in which grade they assessed student writing. Third? Fourth? Fifth? Seventh? They responded that their students are not assessed in writing until ninth grade. Soon after hearing this response, Brenda shared with me her amazement and awe with this group. She went on to share how delightfully impressed she was that nearly 50 teachers from suburban Minneapolis chose to spend four days of their summer merely learning how to provide more effective writing instruction for the students they served. In fact, the participants shared with her that more teachers wanted to attend, but they had to limit the numbers to a select a few from each campus due to funding.
While the curriculum is becoming more rigorous, and the level of accountability for educators is increasing, it is encouraging to be reminded that educators became educators primarily because they wanted to make a positive difference in the lives of the students they serve. It has been highly rewarding to be witness to this firsthand and to know that we are playing a role in equipping educators with training and resources that will help them to achieve this mission. Share other examples of educators and their personal commitment to educating the students they serve!