After every professional football game, a press conference is held, where the coaches and select players go in front of the sports reporter and do a dissection of the game.
This happens as well in collegiate sports, and most any professional sports as well.
It is a time honored tradition.
The coaches, even if they are in a bad mood because of a loss, must take questions from the reporters:
- “What was the turning point?”
- “What went wrong?”
- “If your quarterback Billy Bob hadn’t broken his arm, do you think you might have won?
Conversely winning coaches go through the same post game ritual and answer essentially the same sets of questions.
- “How will you prepare for next week’s game?”
- “How are the players feeling now?”
- “Tell us about Billy Bob’s groin injury.”
It is a public exercise in metacognition. Players as well are asked to participate in the press conference.
- “How did you prepare for the defender?”
- “What will you do differently next week?”
- “Do you still think you are performing at a high caliber?”
- “Tell us about your groin.”
Sometimes, these are painful to watch, especially when the coach or players know that they should have won but did not. It is very interesting to see them, in real time, try to explain what went wrong or what went right. For many, they have data at the ready, can reel off numbers of interceptions, yards per passing play, etc.
Sometimes, the coach and players make up excuses, blame the referees, or rattle-off clichés about the better team winning or this not being their week.
If you have never watched one of these, you should.
That got me thinking, what if educators had to face the press like coaches do, but after the standardized test scores come in for their schools?
Can you imagine it: A principal would be like the coach, and the teachers would be like the players. They would have to explain to their community why the scores are the way they are. What they plan to do to fix the scores, and then take questions.
Principal Smith: “Before I take any questions, I want to thank you all for being here today. As you know, this year was a difficult year a lot of changes to the rules, a lot of personnel changes at the beginning of the year. We lost a few veteran teachers, we had to bring in some rookie teachers, and of course, the poor results from last year’s scores had a lot of people thinking we would not have a winning test season this year. I believe we proved them wrong as most of the scores clearly indicate. We are moving in the right direction and look forward to next season. Are there any questions?”
Reporter 1: “Tell us Mr. Smith, what was the turning point in this year’s test scores? Who were your bright spots?”
Principal Smith: “Well, we could have done better. We always are trying to do better. Our Third grade teachers really stepped up this year, but it looks like the Fifth grade fumbled the Math portion of the test. The fourth grade held the line and pretty much did what we expected them to do.”
Reporter 2: “What will you be doing differently next test?”
Principal Smith: “We need to be looking at maybe shuffling around our personnel. Our Fifth grade needs stronger support in Math, so we will be looking to bring in a stronger math teacher. Also, we need help in our Special Ed secondary. Too many dropped questions, not answered questions. Not quite sure why that is happening. We need to look at the film, er the data.”
Reporter 2: “Does that mean you are going to fire a Fifth grade Math teacher?”
Principal Smith: “ I am not a liberty to discuss personnel matters at this time, suffice it to say that we need help in Fifth grade and our current players are not picking up the ball and running with it. So we may move, we may shuffle, we may bring in a specialty teacher.”
Reporter 3: “Who was your standout player this season?”
Principal Smith: “Without a doubt, it was Ms. Lopez. She went 4 for 4 with all of her students passing all of the tests. Here she is to talk about it.”
Ms. Lopez: “ I just want to thank God for giving me this opportunity. And the students, they did an outstanding job.”
Reporter 4: “Ms. Lopez why your students do better this year than last year?”
Ms. Lopez: “I think it had to do with how we changed out Math and reading techniques this year. We personalized the learning experience, we moved to new digital books, and we spent more time working on the basics.”
Reporter 4: “And you plan on doing that next year?”
Ms. Lopez: “We need to have a hard look at our data, then make decisions. But we seem to have done something right this year and we want to replicate it next year as well. Thank you.”
Principal Smith: “Thank you all for being here. No more questions. Thank you. Thank you.”
Questions would be shouted out by the reporters, pictures would be taken..it would all be very exciting. But we don’t treat education like we treat sports.
We don’t ask educators to publicly explain their results. Maybe we should. Maybe we should begin a new ritual of having educators explain to their public exactly what happens at they schools.
And maybe, we need to treat education with the same importance that we do sports.
Author: Tim Holt is an educator and writer, with over 33 years experience in education and opines on education-related topics here and on his own award-winning blog: HoltThink. He values your feedback.
Feel free to leave a comment. Read his previous columns here.