…and successful teachers love teaching successfully!

I am so impressed with the young teachers who celebrated a few of their successes in the staff-room at morning interval yesterday.

There are a couple of (disparate really) teachers who are part of a literacy initiative on The Coast which entails them co-mentoring, discussing, planning, implementing strategies and moderating progress of a small group targeted children identified with literacy needs. I am not entirely sure how long they have been involved in the practical aspects of the initiative, (just this year) but clearly they are getting to ‘the pointed end’. One of the teachers (apparently without the knowledge of the other) took the opportunity to share a wee success story. The names of the children are unimportant, but the substance of the story was that child X (Karl) had shown great progress over the preceding several months due to the interventions undertaken (not the least of which, of course was the buy-in of ‘Karl’!) to the extent of raising his writing literacy achievement from a ‘low 2’ to a ‘3B’. Now the story didn’t end here because this improvement seemed extraordinary to both teachers given the child and the time involved, so they decided to seek independent moderation of the child’s work, ‘just to be sure’. Long story short, the two independent teachers agreed that the ‘Karl’s writing achieved a ‘3B’, although they admitted to being very strict/hard in their moderation and admitted a higher score would not have been unreasonable given some of the quality of deeper features in evidence.  Of course the story was greeted with popular acclaim! And why not!!!

As the applause faded another young teacher undertook to share her own success story, this time nothing to do with anything more special than her own class maths programme working for her/her kids. She had for many months lamented young Y (Mark?)’s ability to come to grips with basic facts. Now she wasn’t putting blame anywhere, but was clearly getting to her wits end by the apparent inability of ‘Mark’ to come to grips with what the basic basic facts were or how to learn them. Now ‘Mark’ is an interesting wee tyke who probably has carried a perception of school and learning that is, to a certain extent inherited, but teachers generally carry an optimistic view that children don’t HAVE to suffer from inheritance! SO Amanda (teacher) stuck at her task and thus was happy to share her story with the staff. At the beginning of the year (well, Term 1) ‘Mark’ achieved the truly underwhelming score of 1 (out of a possible of 100). By T2, despite various tricks and inducements, ‘Mark’ showed NO improvement, OR inclination to become a basic facts master- 0/100 (lots of doodles on the test paper!)! Term three? It was a long term, but…? What happened? Amanda was hard-put to explain it herself but she was delighted that, for some yet to be indentified reason, ‘Mark’ switched on, discovered homework, in-class maths, and (obviously) something else, because he, out of nowhere achieved a possible 100/100 in the basic facts test! OUTSTANDING!! Why? How? I don’t care- IT HAPPENED and Amanda was almost in tears telling us about it!

The individual achievements of the children are wonderful, but it’s the pride of the teachers that impresses me. These young people who are dedicated to their jobs, committed to their children, and who do a wonderful job day after day for those children. It pisses me off somewhat when politicians step in and determine that this will happen or that will happen completely without reference to the people who actually do the job they have been trained to do, and who are passionate about the job they do.

Keep up the great work, you wonderful people, despite the political dross that is dumped upon you. Politicians are transitory- you are for good (in more ways than one!)

Kia kaha. Kia manawanui.


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