Every principal worth his salt knows the kind of teacher he wants in every classroom and knows how few they are. This teacher can be evaluated by the clip-board held sheet with boxes to tick off and this will miss entirely the qualities that we can call micro-behaviors, after the current term micro-aggression, “a term used for brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward any marginalized group.” To understand what these teachers do, we might take the aggressive teacher and turn those characteristic behaviors around. For example, instead of indignities, how about empowerment? Instead of hostile, how about comradeship? Instead of derogatory, how about up-lifting and inspirational and aspirational? Instead of slights and insults, how about compliments and praise? Instead of focusing on marginalized groups only, how about extending these positive behaviors to all students and to all of one’s colleagues? Instead of downgrading the principal for not bringing up your pet idea in the faculty meeting, why not discuss some of the things that are working around campus? And so on and so on.
Some teachers do take the high road. Most are in the middle and a few are just plain toxic. The latter often wind up wondering how they got the assignment to the detention room (and THAT would be a mistake on the principal’s part b/c those kids need an uplifting presence more than any others). A good evaluator could spot those teachers on the high road. I have a case in mind, where the principal recognized such a good teacher and hired him back after he had gone to another district and had difficulties. He focuses on the students and uses his own miserable school experience as a guide to what not to do. His success shows in higher test scores for kids at the very bottom of the socio-economic ladder. Some of his colleagues do not appreciate what he does b/c he isn’t part of that tsk tsk tsk group who despises the students (and their parents) and hates their situation (a poor district paying very low on an already state-wide poverty scale wage for teachers). My person appreciates the fact that he has found someone who threw away the clip-board and simply looked at what he was doing.
Maya Angelou said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”