I don't know why I go to extremes
Too high or too low there ain't no in-betweens. -- Billy Joel
There have been many times in my life I have felt this way, either seeing things as "all good" or "all bad". But never have I felt this way more than in my new hobby of playing golf, or trying to play golf, as it should be more accurately named. With a few lessons under my belt and utilizing the coaching Dave so generously provides (believe it or not, I do not mean this in a sarcastic manner), I love going out on the golf course. But inevitably, a hole or two into the game, I either feel like my game is "on fire" or I feel I should set fire to my clubs. Rarely do I feel the "in-between". No matter how many times Dave says, "Not ever shot is going to be a winner" or "Keep trying. It will get better", I somehow feel I am in a vortex of "all good" or "all bad". But golf and life are simply not like that---there are shades of in between, if we just get out of the labeling business.
Teaching is like this, as well. Lessons almost always have room for growth and shades of brilliance. For this reason alone, I am eternally grateful to work with a four-ply rubric that doesn't simply check a box for "good" or mark it as "unsatisfactory". In all my years of teaching Special Education, I'm certain I never taught a lesson that was 100% stellar. While I might have demonstrated a high degree of respect and rapport, maybe I could have included some other type of media that might have enhanced the learning, the type of evaluation experience I had was much more a check-off. Someone would watch me teach then mark a box all but saying "Good lesson. Good to keep teaching. That is all". Teachers would complain that if one thing in their lesson went awry, they were suddenly marked as "You need improvement as a teacher." But teaching is so much more intricate than that, as is my golf swing and my golf game. A rubric such as the one based on Charlotte Danielson's Framework for Teaching honors the intricacies of classroom instruction, And taking the label off of the teacher and only marking evidence of particular attributes and teaching strategies takes the "end-all/be-all" off the process in the first place.
Teachers don't want to be labeled as "good" or "bad" anymore than I want to be labeled a "great golfer" (I'm in no immediate danger of that occurring in any near future, I promise) or "stinky golfer". But we can start to see patterns of progress or patterns of growth areas over time if we are but willing to look and not go to extremes.
Just for today, perhaps we can honor the subtleties of the teaching practice and help to improve instruction, one lesson at a time. In the meantime, I am going to hit the driving range with Coach Dave.