Amidst all the mumbo-jumbo about Common Core, Mass-Customized Learning, proficiency-based education, and the collection and use of data,  we must not forget that the quality of human experiences in a school is what ultimately determines the learning outcomes of the students.

If the adults in a school don’t feel satisfied professionally, then the students won’t thrive. We can have access to all the data in the world about a child, but if the child’s teachers are unhappy professionally, then that data will not ultimately be useful.

Schools where the adults feel satisfied professionally produce good learning results in children. Our money and attention should be spent creating the conditions teachers want: time alone and with other teachers for preparation of curriculum and lessons; a teaching load that allows for meaningful relations with children; a voice in decisions that impact the student experience; time for advanced study; respectful treatment from administrators and school board.

I would wager that better student learning results would quickly follow once those conditions were provided for.

Kathreen Harrison

Kathreen Harrison is a public school teacher in Maine. She has a master’s degree from Bank Street College of Education and a bachelor’s degree from Harvard College. She has worked in a variety of...