As part of the TeachThought January Blog Challenge today’s prompt is:

What advice can you give a new teacher as to the priority or focus for energy as they begin their careers?

I remember when I started teaching in 1998. But really I had always known I was a teacher and was lucky enough to grow up around dedicated and caring educators who would set a high standard for the type of teacher I wanted to become. And High Stakes Testing was in its infancy, as in I did not grow up watching my teachers care about The Test, seemingly above all else. I wonder how many of our newer teachers can say that? I hear teachers praised and see them elevated for “their progress-monitoring skills” and still need to ask – but is s/he a good teacher? What must these newer teachers think their job is with the current climate of teaching data and testing obsessed?

So, when I get the chance, I tell a newer teacher: “Do you know what happens if your kids don’t get astronomical test scores? Nothing. No one has the time to come take over your class and do your job for you if everything else you are doing is good.” It might seem strange to them, that every other perceived authority figure in their district is telling them otherwise, their entire college experience, maybe even their K12 background. However, I can’t say I am sorry to say it to those who need to hear it and I will go on saying to any good teacher who needs to hear that they are more than this year’s test scores.