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It seems the entire educational system is based on perception.

No one seems to know the truth, so we all rely on how we want to perceive the truth.

Show people test scores, financial documents, or statistics and they will try to rationalize or explain them away (excuses are like… well, never mind).

How You See Yourself and How Others See You Is Two Different Things.

Think about it.

Most parents believe they live in a good school district.

This can’t be true for all of us, can it?

Some of us must live in an average or even below average district.

Many parents seem to believe their child is easily one of the best athletes in school (if not the state… if the coach would just put them in the game).

This goes hand in hand with parents thinking every coach needs to be fired (there has to be some kid who is less than a great athlete… isn’t there?).

Most teachers feel like they do a wonderful job every day.

They can’t all be great 100% of the time, can they?

Most administrators think they are working harder than all the other principals and superintendents combined (surely one of us isn’t as great as we think we are…).

How is this possible?

Isn’t at least one of us the lazy one (don’t answer this if you have even a smidge of anger towards administrators… and if you’re honest, many of you do)?

Most school boards think they only hire the best and brightest.

Isn’t this a statistical impossibility?

Communities believe they can do a better job making school decisions at a local level than the state or federal government.

The federal government believes they can do a better job making decisions at the local level than the states.

States are just confused (and sadly broke).

Everyone believes their school is safe.  And clean.  And structured.  And financially conservative.  And providing a great learning environment for all of their students.

How can this be true?

Or do we just want it to be true?

People say Perception is Reality.  Isn’t Reality… Reality?

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22 Responses to “Perception.”

  1. Olwyn Hughes
    on Mar 22nd, 2010
    @ 7:23 pm

    Well, today was one of those days when I know I didn’t give it 100%. The good thing is that I knew it. Unlike all the teachers who do the same thing every day and it is always at 50%. Sigh….

    And I know that we are not providing the best learning environment for all students. If we were really teaching the way that each child learns then each child would be learning, right? We keep trying to make the kids fit our mold instead of changing our teaching methods to fit the kids.

    I am happy to say that my school is going to be rebuilt in the next two years and that we are going to be building using a learning community model and focusing on the different learning modalities. Believe it or not, the teachers are actually talking with the architects FIRST and building the school according to how we teach. Novel concept, huh?


  2. Diane
    on Mar 22nd, 2010
    @ 7:41 pm

    I live in the best school district in the U.S. We have the best teachers, the best administrators, the best… Oh wait. Let me take off my blinders.

    Bad day?

  3. A Parent
    on Mar 22nd, 2010
    @ 8:25 pm

    Q: How can this be true?
    A: It can’t.

    Yes, reality is reality. Some of us know our schools are not at the top of the heap. Although we work to change this, the process is so frustrating that would be easy to give up on.

  4. Laura
    on Mar 26th, 2010
    @ 7:25 pm

    Me thinks we would be better off if the kids thought they attended the best schools rather than the parents. A little association/affiliation wouldn’t hurt.

    There is the other end of the scale though where there is the assumption that their school is about the third level of hades. That’s an even worse scenario. I’m in with some sixth graders now… 22 kids, 8 IEPs, 1 TSA, lowest student reading level 2nd grade, average reading level about 4th or 5th grade (at least on paper, but I suspect that may just be inflated a bit). Last week a kid was suspended for trying to strangle another student… twice (I remind you they’re in 6th grade). Unless you’ve got a heck of a lot of showmanship it’s really hard to engage these kids because they just don’t seem to care. Same school has three kindergarten classes, three kindergarten teachers, and only two kindergarten classrooms. That’s right folks, imagine 50+ five year olds shoved into a single classroom with two teachers.

    Around these parts, a little pride would go a long way.

    A little common sense would go even further.

  5. Jackie
    on Mar 27th, 2010
    @ 7:47 am

    Of course there are dedicated teachers and administrators all over but I sadly believe that there are also those who only play at that to impress, well, whoever they need to impress to keep jobs and funding. From where I sit, at least, I see more dedicated folks than the other type which is what makes them stick out from the crowd. Education is a profession but also a calling. I don’t know to many millionaire teachers. Hang in there, Mike. Go hang out with some people who remind you that what you are doing is important and matters. Spend some time in a classroom.

  6. Pete Post
    on Apr 7th, 2010
    @ 5:14 am

    I find myself using the phrase “I don’t want to scare you but” pretty often in my education classes at Trinity Christian College. At the risk of scaring or scarring my teachers-to-be once again I will ask them to respond to this article. They have been out there teacher aiding and observing schools and teachers firsthand. I hope they are finding that it’s a challenging but beautiful profession. There’s nothing I have found that can beat the excitement and satisfaction of teaching students something new. Thanks so much for helping to “keeping it real”.
    Prof Pete Post

  7. Kristen
    on Apr 10th, 2010
    @ 3:07 pm

    People do say perception is reality, but I believe that’s false. People percieve things about others all the time, and most of it is not true. I experienced this once in high school. I had the opportunity to job shadowed at an elementary school. The teacher I was with thought she was the best teacher around. You could tell that she thought very highly of herself. The sad thing was though, her students weren’t benefitting from that. The students weren’t learning anything from her teaching. This teacher was actually one of the more experience teachers in that school as well. No one wants to believe that they’re the bad teacher or the bad administrator, but I think the first step is to recognize that. Once we do, then we can fix it.

  8. Jenna Rae Reidenga
    on Apr 12th, 2010
    @ 10:10 am

    “Taking the blinders off” – one of the hardest, yet useful things to do at a school, whether you are the secretary, the fifth grade science teacher, or the dean. Teacher aiding has taught me this in many different ways. Seeing “the in’s and out’s” of a school and taking of my rose-tinted glasses it challenging – it is hard to stay encouraged when you see the downfalls of a school. But at the same time I know I wouldn’t trade these experiences for the world, since I know I won’t be fooled when it is my classroom, and my school’s secretary, or dean. I like being prepared, knowing that not everything can come from my perception. Although it is hard to do, it is important because it helps all of work together better.

  9. Kat Ledworuch
    on Apr 13th, 2010
    @ 9:14 pm

    Only reality is “reality” so lets not pretend to much and do something about it. I think we like to perceive things in our own ways because we feel safe and guarded. Not every district is the greatest and we know that for sure but thinking it , won’t fix it. I like how you said that every teacher and administrator thinks they are working harder than another but really its just our perception kicking in. We like to feel that we are giving it our all when we could probably give so more. The reality is there are better schools , worse schools, and not all teachers and administrators give 100% everyday. If we open our eyes and see the reality maybe then we can fix what is broken.

  10. Steven Dell
    on Apr 14th, 2010
    @ 7:38 pm

    I agree with your implication that everyone on some level is to blame. Unfortunately I feel that the education system has become too convoluted and overly complicated by the parties involved that it would take serious restructuring to make a noticeable difference. Like Paul Vallas says he is glad that New Orleans was wiped clean because everyone can benefit from a clean slate – you pull weeds out from the roots and you make sure you get the whole weed and all of them if you want your garden to grow and prosper and you do this continually if you want it to prosper in the long run. I also feel like everyone has great ideas and intentions for improvement in schools but the action/funding/people just aren’t there right now. All that we can hope for is to do the best with what we are given and pray that everything works out for the best. If we keep living by our own perceptions and playing the blame game without trying to attempt to correct what we are blaming we might as well be blaming ourselves for laziness and apathy to do anything that matters.

  11. Courtney Jeltema
    on Apr 14th, 2010
    @ 8:19 pm

    I do believe that everybody has a different perspective then the next person. We all think differently, therefore, we all have a perspective for different things. And I do not think people take things to extreme in believing they are they only ones. If people do have perspectives, then they know that they are not the only ones with a say or an opinion. People learn that other people think differently. I am sometimes surprised when someone chooses to approach a problem differently then I do, but in reality, that’s very true. People approach things differently and I believe people, especially teachers and administrators, know that.

  12. April Houtsma
    on Apr 14th, 2010
    @ 8:28 pm

    Spending time in a classroom that is not my own has helped me understand this concept. Most teachers out there think that no one else could possibly do what they do. The reality of it is that many of the teachers in our school system today are reading pre-written lesson plans from some company that does not personally know their classroom. An outsider’s opinion is crucial at this point to show the administration what standards their school is really meeting. Is the school really safe? Are the teachers really as great and busy as they claim to be? In reality, perceptions of schools are biased. It is important that each teacher/administrator is always thinking of new ways to better their school and/or classroom, not thinking they are the best. In this way, even an outsider should be able to witness how safe and progressive each classroom really is.

  13. Nola Sawyer
    on Apr 14th, 2010
    @ 8:31 pm

    I say reality shmality. The real truth is that as humans we are not flawless and we do not act perfectly, think perfectly, or create perfect things. I think we could all benefit from doing a little owning up to this fact instead of always trying to impress others with how perfect we think we are/act/create. Maybe if we openly acknowledged our flaws we would all have a little more sense of what we should work at and where we can help others. It’s a hard thing to do, but if we don’t accept that there is room for improvement, then there is nothing to do. :)

  14. Jonathon Mulder
    on Apr 14th, 2010
    @ 10:42 pm

    I think perception can be both good and bad. Sometimes our perception of others can be way off and not true. Sometime we may need that wake up call to help us realize that everything isn’t just perfect. The reality of the whole thing is that there are good schools and bad schools. We can’t just close our eyes to it at all either. I’m hoping to be a teacher, and I know I shoulnd’t act like there’s nothing wrong when there is. I need to do my best to do something about it.

  15. Melanie Lawrence
    on Apr 15th, 2010
    @ 6:26 am

    There are a lot of people who believe that their school is the best. My high school was a lot like that. I am observing at a school right now, and I can tell that a lot of the teachers think they are just the best teachers in the world. They think their school is just completely perfect and better than any other school. Don’t get me wrong, it is a very good school, but when people think like this, they do not leave any room for improvement. As a future teacher, I realize that I am not going to be the best teacher in the world, but I have to strive for that. We have to understand that we are not the best, but we need to continue to better ourselves as educators. We cannot just coast through our careers. We need to keep working hard to become better teachers.

  16. Timothy Turner
    on Apr 15th, 2010
    @ 6:58 am

    Everyone cannot be the best at any particular thing, but many people can be good at a particular thing. We should focus more on making people better, whether they know they need it or not, teachers and people. I believe this starts with each individual teacher who is hopefully striving for perfection. We know even the best teacher is not perfect, unless of course we do not believe in sin, this means there is room for even the best teacher to improve. If other teachers see the best teacher they know is working to improve they undoubtedly will work to improve their own teaching. This would improve our school systems some and with more work they could be much better.

  17. Kelly VandenBerg
    on Apr 15th, 2010
    @ 10:33 am

    This brings up a good discussion topic. We all have to admit that it is true that we believe we work the hardest, live in the best area, have the smartest, most athletic children. This is good in one sense that we have confidence in ourselves and what we do. But it is equally as important to be able to take a step back from our skewed perceptions and take an unbiased look at reality. In saying this, I think it is very important for teachers to analyze their individual work, and take time comparing and learning from other teachers. If teachers can see each other not merely as competition, but rather as team members that willingly help improve each others careers, things will begin to work more smoothly. This, however, takes a level of humility for each person, which is often the main problem in these perception issues.

  18. Julie Rolston
    on Apr 15th, 2010
    @ 10:49 am

    I think that this article is sadly true. Everyone does believe that they are good at what they do even if it is totally true. If some teachers realized that they could be better then this might not be such a problem. Knowing that your a good teacher is fine, as long as your willing to work to be great, excellent, the best! It is inevitable that an entire school is not going to be perfect, but I think that the problem is that everyone gets so caught up in the way they do things, that they forget that the goal is to continue to get better, to keep trying, and even if your not the best in the end, it is better then being the worst. It’s tough though because not only are schools convinced that their way is the right way, but they seem to care more about money then what is actually best for their students. There has to be a middle ground!

  19. Carissa Trotto
    on Apr 15th, 2010
    @ 10:57 am

    Everyone likes to think that they are perfect or that they are the best at something. In reality no one is perfect. Someone might be good at something but there is always room for improvement. They are not the best!! I am teacher aiding in a kindergarden special education class. This is a really rough class to get under controll and get to pay attention. The teaching I am obseving does a pretty good job of that. I have talked to a couple other teachers and they have all said how good she is and how she is the best. She knows that she is good but she does not go around acting like it or saying anything. She still asks for others to help out. She still needs alot of help through out the whole day. What I am trying to say is that people might be really good at something but they should not precieve themselves as the best because in reality there is still room for improvement.

  20. Molly Ricker
    on Apr 15th, 2010
    @ 11:58 am

    There is a lot to this article that I agree is true. However, each person is going to have different perceptions. As I have been observing, I see in the school how are these teachers are working to improve the students reading. However, they are not getting any support from the parents. Many parents think it is all the teachers job to teach their students, when in fact parents have a huge impact before they attend school and helping support along the way. A student who is excited about a good grade and has a parent to share that excitment and support is more likely to improve than one with no one at home caring. That is a perception some parents have of the teachers in their students’ school. I agree that a teacher can not be top performance everyday of their teaching; however, they need to at least be motivated and work through the days no matter how rough they are.

  21. Joshua Michael Copeland
    on May 5th, 2010
    @ 8:14 pm

    I think that you are right in some ways. Because I have had some horrible teachers and i have also had some great ones. I think what matters is that the teachers, administrators, and other school officials should try as best they can. if they can not reach some kid they need to change perspectives and try something new. I think that is how a teacher or a school district should be graded. Can they teach the “unteachable,” can they reach the “unreachable,” and can they do this while still helping the other students in the classroom?

  22. Amanda Hill
    on May 13th, 2010
    @ 11:04 am

    I completely agree with this article. Education is not always just based on a good school or school district. While this helps and is greatly important, we forget that education relies greatly on the quality of teaching, structure, and understanding of student ability. The perception of below average schools is that they could be nothing more due to lack of money. Could we not turn them into something more by providing the right structures and teaching methods, understanding of students, and hard work? Granted, money for facility and resources can be necessary and are also a great advantage, but I am a believer that the perception that sterotypes certain places of education actually hurts the ability to grow.

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