Investing In Your Future

My husband and I recently bought our first home. You always hear about the challenges of home ownership, but you don’t quite understand them until you actually own your own home. The electricity went out in our neighborhood in our first week, blowing a fuse in our furnace. We were alerted by the fact that our thermostat never turned on after the electricity came back on and we had an HVAC man in our house within the day.

As I learn to navigate home ownership, I’ve realized that buying a home is a lot like being a teacher. When you buy a home, in the beginning, you can only know so much about the inner workings of your plumbing, HVAC, roof, etc. The initial inspection only tells you so much about the real needs of your home. It takes a while to see the tiny cracks in the bathroom and the uneven door frame and even longer to decide the best course of action.

Young female student thinking at the library

The same goes for learning where, when and how to help students in the classroom. Initial assessments and last year’s assessment data are valuable and insightful, but they can only tell us so much about a student. You don’t fully understand their academic strengths and challenges until you get to know them better. It takes a while to learn a student’s learning style and really assess their academic, social and emotional needs.

We’re two months into the school year and I know a lot about my students’ learning via in-class writing and discussions. I have national reading assessment data from last month and I’m using district assessments to analyze their progress. As students continue to submit writing assignments and complete on-grade level reading passages with varying degrees of success, I’m constantly reminded of the importance of regular checks of their learning. Without these regular check-ins, I can’t see the tiny, but often detrimental cracks in their understanding of complex topics.

As a teacher, I have a responsibility to my students to notice the challenges that someone else may have missed or overlooked and decide on a course of action. It’s imperative that we meet students where they are, do regular checks of learning and then do seasonal checks, in our case state and national assessments. We often fear this data, but without information we can’t help students grow.

I value my home just as much as I value the success of each and every one of my students. In both cases, it’s better to invest in the future now.


About the Author

Kari Patrick teaches high school English at STEAM Academy in Lexington, Kentucky. She also serves as Senior Advisor of Teacher Outreach for the Collaborative for Student Success.