Teachers can change the world. As the week of MCAS hell rolls to a close tomorrow, it would be easy to forget our role as teachers and potential heroes. We can’t forget this because we are, or at least, we can be. If there is any doubt of the power a caring educator can have on the lives of young people, watch this ESPN short about the Lady Jags, the girls basketball team of Carroll Academy. Carroll is a non-residential juvenile detention facility. The team has lost more than 200 consecutive games, and not by small margins (scores such were sometimes 91-4); yet this short is not a “Cinderella Story” but a story of the potential of all children and the value of an education and adults who believe in them.
Listening to the coach talk with his team, I don’t hear condescending tone or misleading messages. The coach accepts the girls for who they are and is determined to help them succeed. At the end of the film we watch the season come to a close with another loss, but this is not the fact upon which the coach focuses. He assesses the team and their success not on a score, but on the progress each of these girls has made. Achievement is evident in the girls’ body language and their dedication on the court. Despite the lack of “Cinderella victory” we watch these girls win and succeed.
As teachers we foster this type of achievement every day. Every day teachers accept the challenge of helping kids learn and grow. We hope that our students are not faced with the same challenges that many of the Lady Jags face, but regardless, as teachers we accept the challenge to help them learn and grow into the citizens and human beings we know they can be. We see who they are when they enter our class and we support them as best we can to win at life. A standardized test cannot be the measurement, just as a scoreboard at the end of the basketball game could not measure the success of the Lady Jags.
Back to proctoring MCAS…