I pulled the following quote from the Bammy Awards Website. It was posted under a tab titled Promoting Your Nomination.
“The Bammys do what all of us should: acknowledge teachers and great practice. Awards tell us, the educators, who the leaders are in our profession. They are the signpost that says, “These are the models, and we have much to learn from them.” In addition, these awards say to the public, “There are those in our midst worth appreciating, worth admiring, and worth respecting.” The Bammys so that and more. They acknowledge the difficulty of a challenging profession and those who excel at it, making it their own.”
The only thing I can counter is that surely we can find better ways of honouring the amazing work that educators do? I truly do respect all the nominees and winners at the most recent Bammy Awards. They do wonderful things for students and our profession. How do I know this? I’ve read some of their stories.
All I can say is if what matters in education are publicizing your success and promoting a nominee we lose focus on what really matters… the stories. Why is this even mentioned when talking about the amazing stories of educators and students? We need to find ways where the stories shine and not an award. How we recognize the work we as educators do matters. How we honour the learning students do matters. What are we saying to students who win and students who lose when we do the same thing to them in a school? What are we saying to kids? Your stories are important but not important enough to get an award. This person’s story, grades, actions, etc… are better than yours in our opinion. The voice of a colleague and friend, Chris Wejr has influenced my feelings on this topic a lot. He has shared the journey him and his staff has taken to removing these awards ceremonies and honouring the stories of all. I encourage you to read his stories. They are inspiring and is a picture of where we all can go as learners, educators, and people.
If we want the public and students to see what learning is we need to do a better job of sharing and honouring the stories rather than award nominations and wins. We minimize our work and the stories get lost in the shiny badges, trophies, or plaques. It is the same way we are perceived by the public when the work and learning of students is minimized to a singular test score. If we want this to change then the amazing learning stories need to be the front of any conversation related to education. Why are some educators in the business of marketing themselves/others for awards? Surely the focus is lost. This is why I love Genius Hour. It is about the students excited about sharing their learning stories. They are not motivated by a letter grade. They are motivated by their love of learning. It is magical to see a student who struggles with their learning confidently explaining their learning while standing in front of a large group of students and adults. Stories of success like this are the ones that attempt to honour all and need to be the focal point rather than awards.
One story for you. When I was younger I strived for awards and badges. I often cut corners in order to achieve. I am reminded of when I was in cub scouts, and I tried to get all the badges that were available. It wasn’t because I loved everything I was doing. It was because I wanted everyone to see all the badges I got. It had nothing to do with what I was learning. It was about status and how everyone saw me. I know every educator who wins awards are not “in it” for awards. My only question is then why are there structures in place to promote their nominations? Our why is important and should be the focal point of any story involved with education.