Thank goodness an arbitrator has ruled that these 75 teachers were "improperly terminated" so maybe they'll have a second chance. I can tell you from experience that second chances can be the ticket to finding an educator who is committed to the profession, who is willing to do whatever it takes to make a difference to children. I know - because that very teacher is me.
I was not evaluated in any way during my first year. But I can tell you I would've been the first on Michelle Rhee's hit list had I worked for her. I wasn't comfortable in my own skin as a teacher, 22 years old and teaching high school seniors. The year was so tough I resigned at the end of it and didn't return for seven years. And I found upon my return that age hadn't improved my classroom management skills. I was, in fact, evaluated during that year, and there were some "below standard" markings on that final evaluation.
But I didn't get fired.
I got help.
First I found myself an unofficial mentor, a teaching wizard across the hall who held children's attention like he was a rock star. I watched everything he did and emulated every move he made. To this day, I pull from things he taught me, catching myself thinking of his words during classroom situations somewhat like we hear our parents' voices from long ago: "Don't run with scissors," "Look both ways before crossing the street."
The next year I had a real live "official" mentor, and I was at her classroom door daily with every "What do I do?" and "Do you have this?" and "How can I make that better?" that I could conjure up.
Fast forward thirty years, and you'll find a teacher who just may have made an impact on a kid or two (and on a teacher or two for that matter.) So....what if I had been fired? Would it have made a difference? Who would've taught Juanita to read? Who would be taking money, right now, to a student in jail who I haven't taught in five years?
I wish we could look in our crystal teacher apple and see how these 75 teachers turn out. But we can't. What we can do is support them in every way possible, provide exemplary mentoring for them, ensure they have all the resources they need, and give them opportunities to develop over time...in short, show them the LOVE.
Today, Valentine's Day, my principal bought red velvet cupcakes for every staff member in the school. In our mailboxes we found candy and a note that read, "Happy Valentine's Day. I love you and Peace."
I wish love and peace to Michelle Rhee as she practices her "tough" version of school reform. I just hope she doesn't continue to destroy young teachers in her path as she goes. So to her I have to ask, Hey Michelle, where is the LOVE?