Evaluate that reality

Tomorrow marks a year since publishing My f*#!%ing goosebump story – the post I still consider my “best ever” (drumroll…ta-daaa!). It has reality, expletives and a message of hope – that one always dies last. As if to mark the occasion, I was involved in a similar incident yesterday. Less violent, more accidental but I did end up on the floor through an action by a Year 9 student in my ‘at-risk’ class (ah, the euphemisms).  Not bad for 198cm [6ft6in] and 100+ kg teacher hey? The student stormed out of class afterwards, staff were sent to look for him, I got checked by admin etc etc. But that is not what is remarkable about this story…

This morning, the student and his classmate partly responsible for the incident, came to our office 10 minutes before the first bell to see me. They looked me in the eye and simply apologised for their actions. Very sincerely and in hushed tones. Nobody sent them to apologise – they came completely on their own steam. For a 14 year old ADHD-diagnosed boy that is huge. The matter ended right there, no further procedures, charges etc. but the feeling of trust between us leapt up a couple of storeys – right there.

The media, politicians and pundits will have you thinking that education is all about ‘improved performance’. One we can declare ‘important’ and measurable. But how do you measure things I have just described above? Things that truly matter to me as a teacher and the student as a growing young man. Will he remember the (failed) test or birth/growth of respect by and for adults in his life?

I sent out a tweet this morning about this little teaching vignette and the response was wonderful. My dear transoceanic colleague Ira Socol (my [co]nspirator in promoting the phrase Evaluate that! – see why) and I simultaneously had an idea – let’s start collecting REAL, insightful moments of teaching and learning NOT measured (even measurable) by school. I started the Twitter tag #evaluatethat , sent out an invitation and provided a few starting examples.

Within just a few minutes, we had half a dozen insightful snaps of reality that make teaching such a human and unbelievably important task! And they keep coming…

Evaluate that 1

And here it is to you, dear reader, and those who you know:

Whether you are a teacher, student, parent, administrator… tell us, in a brief sentence or two, YOUR moments of teaching or learning (yours or someone else’s) that was never formally measured but made an impression on you. These ‘bites’ of reality do not have to be all gloriously positive, the only criteria – true, real and not measured (no hypotheticals please).

We are collecting these via Twitter by using #evaluatethat hashtag in each relevant tweet. This will ensure all of these are kept in one place and can be easily seen by all.

What if I don’t have or want a Twitter account?

That’s fine. If you want one, here is a well-received Twitter Handbook for Teachers that has all you need to get started. If you don’t want to bother with Twitter, just leave a comment below.

Passing this on will make the collection richer for things that matter the most, but you know that already…

To watch a child grow – privilege of a parent. To watch a class grow – privilege of a teacher.

REAL, insightful moments of teaching practice NOT measured by school


  1. arjana

    Several years ago, there was a rude and verbally aggressive student in my class. He was a low-performing student, but also a talented waterpolo player (nothing personal, Tomaz, ha, ha). He ignored everything I said or did, made lame excuses for not doing his work and kept distracting other students. Then one day I went swimming and ran into him in the swimming pool. Nothing could hide my embarrassement as I was standing in front of him in my swimming costume, but I could also see that he felt ill at ease, too. To my surprise he greeted me, so we had a little chat about swimming and in the end I told him that after all we had something in common.

    This brief conversation from outside the school zone resulted in change in his behavior. He was never disrespectful again, he started paying attention in class, and sometimes he even did his homework.

  2. Veronica

    Having recently been physically attacked by a student, whilst on duty in the school yard, I was feeling less than enthusiatic about my chosen profession. As always, in this job, it was my students who pushed me through and gave me the right perspective. “Why didn’t you just belt her Miss?” Why didn’t I? “How did she get past the front gate gate Miss?” How did she? “Would you like us to beat her up at the shops for you Miss?” No. I wouldn’t like that! How to explain the difference between defending yourself as opposed to retaliating? I tried with my Year Ten students to explain ridiculous concepts like; duty of care, job security, criminal charges and personal choice…all to no avail. They could not understand, why I had stood and taken something which they perceived, I could have turned around to my own violent conclusion. Now I am neither small, nor fearful so yes…I could have ‘taken her’. But how to explain why I had not done so? So I allowed them to explore my options to different conclusions and in the finish, one of my ‘so called’ D students piped up and said “So. If you did anything else, you wouldn’t have been her today with us. Hey Miss?” And that was enough, all of them decided that I had done the right thing. How do I assess that?

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