“Good” Teachers by Charles Saydah is an editorial which surprised me.
I suspected it would be much of the same – lumping a sea of respectable teachers in a pool of underachievers. But I’m happy to admit I was wrong.
Saydah speaks of his English teacher back in the New York Public School System, Jacob Solovay, as “A supremely controlled man, his knowledge, kindness, generosity, supportiveness and patience appealed to his students.
Our school had created a sophomore English class to develop writers and editors for the school paper. It must have been the ideal class for a teacher: motivated, smart kids engaged in a creative, mercantile task. As an adolescent, I sensed that it would be impossible to be a bad teacher under such conditions.”
He and a few of his classmates recanted many a fond memory of Mr. Solovay and the profound impact he had on their young lives. I too consider myself fortunate to have benefited from the guidance, care and support of many fine teachers, from K-12 in Lyndhurst, New Jersey: Mrs. Mason, Mrs. Dempsey, Miss Ahumuty, just to name a few.
He closes his editorial by saying, “None of us cited specific details on exactly what Solovay taught. We didn’t cite his clear objectives, organization and preparation. But we hit on probably what is most significant about good teachers: Their impacts endure, forever. Try measuring that quality in a tenure evaluation.”
Over the next few years teachers will find themselves being evaluated on a long list of criteria in order to classify them as effective or ineffective teachers. I have no doubt in my mind that there won’t be a section for teachers like Solovay and others and that is the real shame.