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Saturday, January 26, 2013

A sense of what now?

For the past two weeks, we've been hearing a lot about "a sense of urgency" at school.  Mostly how our principal doesn't think we have one.  And how her higher-ups don't think we have one.

I wonder how exactly a sense of urgency is measured.  I haven't seen any kind of barometer on the wall (Urgency Level Purple today!), nor do I get updates on my smartphone.

Is someone who is running up and down the rows of desks (with or without scissors), sweating profusely, eyes bulging, yelling basic factoids at the their kids demonstrating a sense of urgency, while someone enjoying an even-paced lesson while smiling at their kids dropping the urgency ball?  These are things I'd love to know as I'm being told I don't have a sense of urgency.

The best guess I can come up with from what has been going on is that a teacher's true sense of urgency can only be reflected in how well their students do on tests.  That somehow if a teacher has a sense of urgency, he/she can transfer that urgency over to the student who will then feel compelled to score higher.

I know for a fact that I have a strong sense of urgency about wanting and needing my kids to do better.  Not just on tests, but in life in general.  But I will admit I've been somewhat deficient in transferring that sense of urgency over to most of my kids.  It's a very hard thing to transfer, because it's not like an auto title that one can just sign over to someone else.

I've tried direct skin-to-skin transfer -- but high fives and fist bumps seem to only make the kids happy instead of stressing them out more.

I've tried Vulcan mind melds -- but thoughts of Hot Cheetos and Justin Beiber have forced my mind back like a brick wall.

I've tried lecturing, but judging by the quickness of eyes glazing over, it's obvious my sense of urgency just didn't take.

So I continue to be one of those teachers who is labeled with the USN (No Sense of Urgency) stamp. 

I guess until I can think of something else to try, I'll just have to continue instructing the kids and building up their math skills as best as I can.


Anonymous said...

We have heard the same thing in our school as well. My take is that I live in the deep south. We don't get in too much of a hurry for anything. :-)

Michael said...

I think this link can explain your boss' obsession with urgency. She lives in the "interruption" quadrant, has for a long time.

Anonymous said...

I have heard the same thing for six weeks now from my new principal (I share districts with you). My problem with this is that it doesn't matter how much you plan, how much work you put it, how much time and effort you give, how much of a sense of urgency you have as a teacher, if you do not have the support of the administration and if discipline is such a big problem schoolwide that teachers cannot even complete the most well planned lesson. If the students do not have the desire to try and learn (where I am, this is the case with many of them) and the school doesn't enforce rules consistently (if at all), then the sense of urgency is lost on the students. When you have several teachers that have left their contracts by winter break because of the students, that is a sign that something (besides the teaching and sense of urgency) need to change. I'll step down from my soapbox now. Thanks for sharing thoughts on your blog.

Mister Teacher said...

Michael, you hit the nail on the head.

Anonymous, you sure you don't work at MY school?