September 20, 2022
The campus is silent as my car pulls into the parking. Remnants of last night storm are apparent in puddles and green oak leaf clusters pooled along the road and paths. My footsteps echo against the building, but my head is full of thoughts, not of the numbers, but the faces of the readers and their teachers.
It is assessment season. We have settled in after a few weeks and now we are assessing the ground we stand on. Just where will we start from, with whom, and how? Those questions, on surface, so simple, but alas as deep as they come. For all of this is about choices and paths, relationships and compromise, hopes and the agreements of many.
So here I sit predawn, opening the data we’ve collected so far, but not seeing the numbers but the troubled faces of young people who know. They feel the struggle down to their bones. They are hoping that those adults around them have solutions, magical, quick-working solutions. Expectantly, yet cautiously, they peer into my face while I listen to them. Some speak. I’m really smart. This is easy, they say. I nod. You are so smart. You’ve learned to try, to convince others to help you on your way, I think.
In my heart, I make a promise to them. I’m not going to let you down. You trust me and I will be worthy of that trust.
But here surrounded by the books, the whoosh of the air purifier and gentle tinkle of my wind chimes, in the heavy silence, I admit to myself that I’m not quite sure how that will happen.
Then I remember that it isn’t a magical solution. It is a time-worn path. Look at the data. Analyze the difficulty. What is the first step? and then…. I so quietly say to myself, You took the first step, you noticed, you wondered.
Each student, each answer, each moment of close listening, these bring us closer to success.