One of the interesting items for which we offered out feedback was a letter that he is preparing to send to Joplin teachers in the next few days. I have been impressed with the direction Ridder has taken in his first year as Joplin's interim superintendent. He recognized very quickly the need for teachers to be given more professional respect, and he will acknowledge in his letter a researched need to return the art and joy to our classrooms. Without the art of teaching, our students are reduced to numbers and lines on a bar graph, and teachers become robotic, little more than characters in someone else's script.
Ridder's letter to teachers will say this:
One striking find from the research is what we are calling the "inspiration gap." The art and joy of teaching and learning is missing in many of our classrooms and buildings and in our district and community for that matter. And, our research is clear - It's negatively impacting our kids.
They say that change in education is inevitable. For a while there, it seemed to be inevitable on a weekly basis, with new expectations and programs pummeling teachers from every direction. Now, we are moving in a more logical direction - one which empowers the local district, which in our case is empowering classrooms, which empowers the students themselves. It will be interesting to see where we go from here.