Erin Chawla: The Kiducation Learning Curve


I'm a Teacher and I am Asking You: Please Judge My Teaching

5 Questions to determine if your child has a good teacher

5 Questions to determine if your child has a good teacher |

As a teacher, I believe in assessment. I evaluate my students constantly to see what they already know, what they have learned and how they are growing. I use a variety of measures to help me determine their progress. But, who is assessing me?

If you are a parent of a kid in my class, I hope you are!

There is a rich and ongoing debate around evaluating teachers and determining their adequacy. Sure, there are politically-motivated measures, such as using the standardized testing of students and there are professionally-derived methods like the principal’s performance appraisal of a teacher. Although both of these processes have their strengths, their weaknesses overshadow them.

However, there has to be some sort of system in place. There needs to be some checks and balances for the teaching profession. After all, you are sending your child - your precious, beloved, curious, wonderful offspring - to spend a great deal of time with this classroom teacher. A parent wants to know the teacher is doing a good job.

I say, please judge me. Judge me by your child’s experience.

Does your child have friends at school?

School is a social experience. Learning to get along with others is every bit as important as academics. And yes, I feel your child’s school friendships reflect on my teaching. Of course, I cannot force kids be besties, but I can certainly watch and listen to my students as they pair up. I can notice who is being left out of groups. I can see who stands alone at recess. And I can intervene. I can create working partnerships with personalities I know will compliment each other - and partnerships that will challenge the students. I can model empathy, openness and caring in my classroom. I can lead discussions around acceptance and respect. If your child, or any child, is sitting in my classroom friendless and alone, then I am failing at my job.

Does your child willingly come to school?

Sure, there are days all of us don’t want to leave the comfort of our lovely beds, but if getting your child to school is a daily battle, then something is wrong. It is my job to create a safe, comfortable space for your child to grow. The teachers need to work together to generate something that connects with each student. Not every kid is going to love school, but if it’s hard to even get them in the building, then we all have some work to do to fix it.

Does your child tell you about something that happened in class?

I work hard to deliver content in fascinating, innovative ways. I allow my students’ interests to influence my lessons.Sometimes I miss the mark, but I will not cease in finding something to engage your child. It is my mission to build a relationship with my students, to challenge them and to foster their talents. In that, there will be something your child is excited enough to tell you about. 

Does your child enjoy solving difficult problems?

I expect all of my students to struggle at times - and to enjoy it. Working through something difficult, something that challenges them and takes effort, should be rewarding. The classroom is a place to take risks, make mistakes and keep striving. Your child should emerge from my classroom with a good attitude toward problem solving. They should have faith in their ability to find answers and know the value of perseverance. 

Does your child leave my class more mature and with greater knowledge than when they came in?

I work with many students who are significantly behind their grade level. The goal for these students, as with all students, is keep moving forward. School should foster growth and development, whether a student starts the year ahead of or behind their peers. To me, it’s not all about the final goal, it’s about continuing to climb. Ask yourself if you are seeing your child’s development as the year progresses? And if you are not sure, please feel free to ask me to prove it - I will be prepared with work samples that show it.

If I am doing my job well, you will have a sense of the classroom through our communication. I’ll be easy to reach and willing to discuss your child with you. 

Forget the standardized tests, forget the gossip of the other parents on the playground - please judge my teaching through the experience of your child.

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