Most new teachers are familiar with historian Henry Adams’s quote: “A teacher affects eternity, he can never tell where his influence stops. “After a few years, most teachers get confirmation from former students’ emails and visits that their influence has positively affected students. But in this climate of data driven teacher ratings, will initial teachers hang in to experience how they affect their students’ eternity in say five years? Sadly in large urban districts over half the new initial teachers fall by the wayside long before they can ascertain through student feedback, not data if they are positively affecting student lives. Is there nothing we veteran teacher colleagues can do that might speed up initial teachers receipting that ineffable, beyond hard data, reward for their teaching from the words and deeds of their students and families? How can veteran teachers advocate to expand our circle of la colleagues to retain these new passionate recruits? Eternity takes time by definition and cannot be nudged along or can it? Yes, veteran teachers can demonstrate and model how initial teachers can put in place their own assessment tools so even in their initial year or years of teaching, they gather data which validates their positive affect on their students. How? With what? These teachers need to look no further than the Chromebook console with which they manage their classes to also gather the ineffable documentation of how they are positively affecting their students lives from day one. This evidence attained by targeted and accessible use of their Chromebook can make the crucial difference between an overworked and data immersed plus observed to the hilt teacher leaving the profession after the first year and that same teacher inspired by the way students’ lives were changed for the better remaining in the profession.
Veteran teacher colleagues can mentor and support new colleagues in putting in place the following assessment tools to ascertain student progress and positive development as a result of their rookie teaching year:
- New teachers can set in place student satisfaction and metacognitive sense of academic and personal development by asking students to create Chromebook situated documents to record what subjects and social /life skills they feel comfortable with entering the class. Students can also be encouraged to upload their handrawn doodles of the teacher or classroom activities into individual class feelings picture files. By mid-year after holiday break, new teachers have their students revisit this tool and talk aloud (which can have recorded and played back whenever the new teacher feels despondent over how the class is going) or write privately about any changes they can assess. Of course, these immediate current student emotional responses to the class and artwork inspired by memorable class moments advance potential ineffable new teacher rewards from eternity to right now this first teaching semester. For example, by using the individual Chromebook word document features, a quiet in class student will have a digital tool to reveal what he/she has gained already. The students word doc comments and art will also offer the teacher genuine formative student data about how to make a difference in student skills or competencies or lives. This data can greatly assist the initial teacher. The tool for nudging eternity can also aid and abet differentiation and individuation. Ironically not only will this Chromebook situated data help retain the first-year teacher, but it will also allow every student shy or not or fluent in English or no, to communicate directly with the teacher. Long story short, first year ineffable rewards may begin to emerge by January of the first-year teaching.
- In 2013, bestselling author R. J. Palacoo released 365 Days of Wonder, Mr. Browne’s Precepts a book of key principles and quotes the fictional teacher of Wonder hero Auggie used in class. In the context of that middle school, Mr. Browne got his fairly quick rewards from students he affected by asking them to send him summer postcards with new precepts on living with kindness they found or share how one precept he taught played out in their lives. This book book and her next one in 2015 Auggie and Me detail how these postcards documented Browne’s influence within a year. By inviting students to email their teacher at his/her school email or even setting up an extra accounts solely for graduates of the teacher’s class, new teachers open the way for students to share how they have been influences. Even a request for help indicates that the teacher has become someone the student will turn to after he or she is not officially in the teacher’s class. Again the Chromebook situates this job retention direly needed data. Graduates need to be explicitly reminded that they are welcome to email the previous year new teacher at their school and their email or graphic art feedback will be appreciated.
- Teachers in elementary school can quickly check up and begin to get a sense of how they have positively influenced their last year’s classes, by informally going into the students new Fall classrooms to say hello and reconnect. Veteran teacher colleagues at the elementary school need to invite their new teacher’s colleagues in to their classrooms to briefly reconnect with the new teachers’ first class from the previous year. As most veteran teachers know students “graduating” from your grade class suddenly elevates them to drop by uninvited eager to help the “little kids” currently in the grade. Often they share how well they are now doing in a subject they struggled to learn last year or how a social problem they tackled with past teacher help has now improved because of that help. Photos taken of these “returning” upper class person students can again be saved to the Chromebook maybe in a folder called “affecting eternity” so the new teacher has documentation of the positive ways the previous term student was influenced. Although by definition former students in grade school are still children, over a summer and with some time to grow and to think, they begin to realize and to sweetly express gratitude for teacher support they may have resented the previous year. Most important the now second year elementary teacher without waiting for eternity affect can at any time look in on the previous year’s students and sometimes those of a year or two prior and see firsthand how the seeds of socializing or overcoming shyness or developing second language acquisition started in the teacher’s class have taken seed as the child develops.
- Veteran teacher colleagues often can sit and validate through conferring about students how these students are evolving for good over the elementary years. One of the easiest and most gratifying ways to experience how an elementary teacher has transformed a student’s life for the good is for him or her to have a respected qualified colleague or sometimes a grateful parent rush in on open school and interrupt the teacher’s talk with a current parent to give him or her a hug and say thanks. All of these spoken and witnessed and verifiable methods for getting fairly immediate within a year or two feedback on how teachers influence students for the good are immediately accessible to most elementary teachers, new and veteran alike. Finally teachers letting other colleagues know that the difference in student behavior or in subject achievement or student attitude they worked on the previous year is indeed now perceptible and recognized by the student, is a gift and positive affect of teaching as a member of a supportive collegial community.
- Graduating elementary or middle school or high school teachers all have student emails, cell contacts and parent contacts. New teachers can send out a blast email asking what’s happening and share the good stuff email to a listserv in under three minutes. This allows for eternity to shrink to potential under 35 second replay time for the teacher to hear feedback from the student who copped an internship using knowledge from the class cyber museum or the student who edited an adult community newsletter because he learned how to use in design 6 in the teacher’s class. Blast emails from the teacher still situated in the neighborhood elementary school or the local zoned junior high alert students who have left their neighborhood for the adolescent distanced world of the high school, that the teacher still wants in on their lives. Such teacher quickly sent to last year’s assignment section b now yield voluntary answers back and thanks for “teaching” how to do the research essay or how to prepare for an AP course or even better the student is now writing a story on her own and would the teacher comment on it All of these can be saved to that Chromebook “Affecting Eternity” folder. High school previews, with its college applications and college prep starting as early as sophomore year, the real world of life for students. This in turn means that having access to the warm teacher email, may result in their appearing in person at a local neighborhood parent night or dropping by on a day they have high school half day to say hi to the teacher and acknowledge to the present class that this teacher is worth a visit back when not required. A good sign that he or she are still eager to return to testify to something positive that went on. Teachers can build on this in junior high or even in high school by having returning alumni interviewed for the student television or newspaper or video web site home page. These videos can be saved in the Chromebook folder a well/ As these returning successes detail their school service leadership or publishing or filming or mathematics club performance skills paid off, their former intermediate or grade school teachers, get a taste of how they have affected eternity in the proximate present.
Consider that teaching each day like a credit card can accrue immediate rewards if the new teacher actively puts in place tools to measure student satisfaction, academic growth, and personal development. New teachers can with little effort and mentoring by veteran teacher advocates, can immediately begin getting the ineffable rewards of successfully transforming student lives one survey, one email, one classroom testimony and one colleague confirmation at a time. Nudging eternity to the immediate present through tapping Chromebooks to be a repository can retain initial teachers. That benefit for present and future students is priceless and needed.
Palacio, R.J. (2016). Auggie &Me. New York: Random House.
Palacio, R.J. (2015) 365 Days of Wonder- Mr. Brown’s Precepts. New York: Random House.
Dr. Rose Reissman,
Academic and Grant Funding Director for Sector 5
About Sector 5,
Sector 5, Inc. (OTCQB: SFIV), is a Proud American Corporation, that sells, manufactures and develops new innovative consumer electronics under Sector 5 and other brands. The Company markets its partnership with Google approved Chromebooks to educational organizations, other B2B and B2C sales channels, with retail sales on Amazon. It is in development of several new products to serve the educational, business and retail markets. Follow the company on http://www.twitter.com/sectorfiveinc and http://www.facebook.com/sect5 and find further information at http://www.sector-five.com. For Sector 5’s Forward Looking Statements, click here.