Blown Out

Data-drivMegaphonemanen instruction blew out the speakers in my car today.   

No joke.  

The day started like any other: coffee, commute, Power Point creation, teach, plan, teach, lunch, teach, and then . . . my new release period to manage new Instructional Leader duties. See, this year, I was elected by my colleagues to represent them in a department-chair capacity, which our school district calls an “Instructional Leader” position. During the release period attached to this new position, I attend meetings at our district office, attend leadership meetings on campus, order supplies, facilitate reading and writing across the curriculum measures – the usual.

The most important part of my new role, I’m finding, is functioning as a cheerleader for the teachers in my department. Due to the data-driven nature of our current education policies, teachers have found themselves feeling much like Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter – the public release of teachers’ “ratings” has caused a severe decrease in morale. Embroidering a scarlet “A” on my professional clothing has, definitely,  crossed my mind lately (a concept featured in this teen-movie about to release). . .

More than anything, I’ve found that teachers need a hug. They need an unbiased ear to listen to them. They need a reassuring voice to tell them that they’re NOT crazy – tests designed to measure reading, writing, and math really don’t have any bearing on their ability to teach the whole-child. Creating opportunities for teachers to reflect on their practice – in an invitational and non-threatening or punitive fashion – is becoming crucial to combat the pressures of the current educational climate.

Without divulging too much information about the teachers on my campus or the specific situation in which I found myself, let me just bullet out a few data-driven factors that led up to blowing out the speakers in my Kia on the way home:

· Another meeting about Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP)

· Creating Corrective Action Tutoring Plans

· Piloting a new teacher evaluation instrument

· Rolling out new curriculum aligned to ACT benchmarks

· Using an entire week of class time to administer pre-tests for new curriculum

· Using another day to administer reading tests to identify ELL students

· Using another day for gifted testing / data collection

· Finding time to meet in teams to discuss ALL of the data


These new data-driven components have resulted in frazzled nerves, less tutoring time for students, and yearbook pictures that reflect drained and blown-out teachers.  It’s no wonder that, when the end of the day came around, what was intended as music-therapy in my car ended up being just as destructive as the events that led up to it.


Alaina Adams

Dr. Alaina Adams

Phoenix, Arizona

My name is Alaina Adams and I am a Board Certified educator who has taught a variety of English Language Arts classes in middle school, high school, and higher education contexts for the past 12 years. I am currently working as a leader in full-time training in the Phoenix Union High School District and love the new perspective it brings for teacher leadership development in my urban, secondary setting. In addition to working in an administrative capacity, I also coach teachers on my campus, district, and across Arizona as they engage with the National Board Certification process.
When not working towards total world domination, I am the mother of a teenage daughter, enjoyer of live music, and am an all-around text-messaging, Twitter-following, and Facebook-posting human being.

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