I think of May as Star Trek Month, where weeks move at Warp Speed and suddenly, the halls are empty and the spinning in my head has reduced to the chaos of only one Tribble.
That being said, there are two more weeks of school, and that means the library will be bustling with students in a frenzy to finish collaborative World History and English research projects; create and publish French magazines; record, edit, and publish book trailers, finish reading and reporting out on the genocide memoirs they are reading on Kindles, and a slew of other end-of-year “showcases” of knowledge and creation. These are the weeks I love most, where every period is an opportunity to help students learn something new or to refine a skill they already have. Best of all, I learn a lot from them, too- The consummate educator’s quid pro quo. (Special shout out to Jordan for teaching me how to Dougie!)
Last weekend, I stood on a stage during the Senior Honors assembly and humbly accepted the Kiwanis Educator Award, an honor awarded to a male and a female teacher in our school who are selected by our student council. When I was informed of my selection, my mind raced with a thousand reactions. From, “Why ME? There are so many more worthy teachers in this building?” to “How awesome is it that I get to somehow impact the lives of students in every grade?!” before finally settling on, “How awesome is it that students recognize that their librarian is a Teacher.” That simple realization made me more proud than any award. So what if some of the staff have no clue what I do, the students know that I Am A Teacher.
And then I read this article about the “Librarian Trials” in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Once again, my reactions ran the gamut. First, I was simply Stunned with disbelief. How on earth could the leaders of Any school district demonstrate such repugnant, ignorant, malicious, ridiculous, unprofessional, and completely misguided viewpoints and actions? That led to an overpowering feeling of IncredibleVengefulManiacalAnger, which I eventually pared down to Heartbreak. Ok. Heartbreak laced with Maniacal Anger.
I can’t help thinking that all of this could have been avoided if the “Educational Leaders” would simply pay attention. Pay attention to what students are doing and saying. Spend time with your librarians and other teachers. At the very least have some sense of what is actually going on inside your schools before you launch a public inquisition against dedicated professionals.
But the LAU District has solid ideas for what makes someone worthy of staying on as a teacher. And it has nothing to do with relationships, pedagogy, or engagement. Their criteria?
“Do you take attendance?” one attorney grilled. “Do you issue grades?”
There you have it. Jot some check marks and numbers in a grade book, and you too, could be Teacher of the Year in LA as determined by the District Attorneys- as long as you don’t dabble in information literacy, educational technology, multi-subject tutoring, or putting quality literature in the hands of young adults.