Head Held High

I’ve always prided myself in the fact that when I blog I try to share a real and honest portrayal of education and who I am.  I’ve been passionate about sharing the good as well as the bad.  So today it’s time for me to share….

If you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time, you know that I took over a reconstituted campus this past school year (Navasota Intermediate).  I hired my entire staff.  We worked tirelessly hand in hand to change the course of the campus. We utilized technology, we connected with others from around the world, but most importantly we were able to teach our kids just how much each and every one of them mattered.

We took children who were beaten down and believed they were worthless, and made them believe something totally different.  We taught them that each one of them were a genius.  That each one of them deserved to be celebrated.  We connected with the community through food drives, hot dog cookouts at apartment complexes, family fun nights, and more.

We brought in guests for our students, learned from Olympic Gold Medalists, authors, singers, other classes from around the world.

We had “Teach Like a Pirate” Day, Book Prom, Superhero day, Huge reading initiatives and so much more.

We welcomed our kids with a red carpet and all my teachers dressed up as superheroes.

My teachers got to learn from some of the best in the field; Tony Sinanis, Erin Klein, Tom Murray, Greg Smedley, Angela Maiers.

I worked hand in hand with my administration to build up my team and to continually show them throughout the year how important they were.

I lead after school tutoring, Saturday school, and we all pulled small groups.

Every single person on my campus, parents included, worked their tails off this year.

And this year definitely had it’s trials. It wasn’t an easy year by any means, but I was proud of the work we did.

Then last week, I got accountability information from the State of Texas.

When we look at campus accountability there are four areas we ultimately hope to meet.  But if we meet at least 3 that is a success.

I sat in a meeting with 5 other principals in my district.

As I sat in that meeting, one by one, I heard campus after campus celebrate that they had either met 3 of the indexes or all four.

Then we got to my campus.  I flipped open the accountability packet.

One.  Just one.

We met one of the accountability indexes.

I was crushed.  I felt like every eye was on me.  I felt destroyed.

I didn’t say a word the rest of the meeting.  I cried the entire way home.

I remember sending a Vox to two of my best friends and I told them I thought I was done.  That I clearly didn’t know what I was doing.  That obviously I wasn’t a good leader, that these scores showed otherwise.  That all that work was for nothing.

I’ve debated long and hard about sharing this story.  This side.  But it was Ben Gilpin who encouraged me to share.  The reason why?

Because this is what a high stakes accountability system can do to us.  It can, in the matter of a few seconds, make us forget all the ways that we touched and changed lives, and instead focus on the scores and act like that is the only true measure of a “good education”.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying that the scores aren’t important.  They are.  BUT, they are only a piece.

And in a matter of minutes, I got lost in the scores and judged my entire year on one day of testing.

It breaks my heart to think of how many other educators feel the same way with this high stakes testing that has become so common place.

I’m still reeling, but today I can sit here and still look at last year as a resounding success.  I know lives were changed.  I know we made HUGE strides in so many areas that those 4 indexes don’t and can’t ever measure.

So today, even though I’ve cried many tears, I stand up ready to face another year.  To keep growing.  To keep stretching.  Today, I stand with my head held high.

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