By Bill & Bobbie Donelson
What a challenging year we have all had! Politics,
economics, and histrionics have plagued society and touched the schools in many
ways. Veteran teachers and school staff have seen cyclical issues such as
educational funding woes impact school systems for years. However, we are
particularly concerned about the impact this is having on new teachers.
New teachers are particularly vulnerable when there is talk
of layoffs or restructuring. However, the American Recovery and Reinvestment
Act of 2009, signed into law by President Obama on Feb.17, has saved jobs
throughout the education sector. We hope that your job is secure and that the
threat of such worries has not been a major burden to you this year.
Despite these issues, we suspect that many of you have
created wonderful islands of learning in your classrooms that have allowed the
majority of your students to blossom across the past year. Still, you may have
also run into some students that you had trouble reaching or some parent
interactions that were challenging.
May is a month to ask ourselves a number of important
questions while things are still fresh in our minds:
- Have I responded positively and proactively to constructive
feedback from my principal during my end-of-year evaluation?
- Is there any further training that I might pursue over the summer to strengthen my skills in certain academic or behavioral areas?
- Have the procedures and routines that I have been using in
my classroom been efficient and effective in minimizing distractions and
maximizing student engagement?
- Have I connected with parents to make sure they are fully aware of their child's progress and any efforts that may be beneficial to sustain their learning over the summer months?
This is also the time of year that high-stakes test scores take center stage. It is important both to celebrate the many successes that will become apparent and to analyze why some students did not make the learning gains that we expected. Grade-level teams benefit from targeted meetings focused on these results and discussion regarding curriculum and instructional issues that need to be addressed before the start of 2009-10.