Last month, I was attending a meeting with our district’s curriculum specialists. A science specialist said this:
When we order our larvae this year, can they be sent directly to the elementary school or do they have to go through the office of curriculum and instruction?
The question made me laugh out loud simply because of its somewhat unexpected nature. But then I wrote it down, and I stared at it and thought why on earth would the larvae used in an elementary classrooms need to go through the office of curriculum and then distributed to the teachers? But this is how it always was done. The teacher went on to explain how the larvae ended up being very small and many didn’t hatch as expected leaving some students to be very disappointed and even sad. Because every child wants his or her larva to turn into a beautiful butterfly.
There was a simple fix. Send the larvae directly to the schools. And that’s what happened. But the question made me think about our jobs as educators. Criticism of the work others do is a tempting thing to partake in. But do we really have any idea what our fellow teachers deal with? It would be easier to criticize this science teacher’s end result: disappointed students. But the real culprit: a supply-chain management issue. Another example, I get frustrated when kids don’t have pencils. But I would have no idea how to explain to a child that his or her larva didn’t survive and become a butterfly.
School is well underway, and here is my challenge to myself (and anyone else who would like to join me). Let’s take time to appreciate that each of us is doing the best we can. Blaming is easy. If kids can’t factor, it must be their previous algebra teacher. If kids can’t multiply, it must have been their elementary teacher. In reality, learning is a very complex, non-linear process that does not necessarily bear fruit on a regular, seasonal basis. Sometimes, we only get to see the larvae-portion of another colleagues job. Larvae are easier to criticize than the beautiful butterfly that results.