The Future of Teaching
As the year comes to a close, there’s a collection of very bold and progressive teachers voicing their opinions on the hot item of the moment: teacher evaluation. Some of my favorites include Renee Moore’s The Future Is Now for Teacher Evaluation and Michael Moran’s Context Matters. In each of these essays, there’s accurate and nuanced reflection about the profession and, more importantly, there’s a sense that we can’t rely on a random, outside observer handing out standardized tests as a measure of what the kids actually know and / or what the teacher actually taught.
How can we evaluate such rich complexity with all the varying levels of performance and experience they represent across the largest profession in America—with a few five-minute walk-bys and a checklist? Hardly. The old factory evaluation model, which was never a good fit for education, will be even less so as we move further into the potential of immersed learning and interconnected teaching. One principal trying to evaluate an entire faculty whose members practice a dizzying variety of pedagogical skills will be painfully ineffective. Like our students, teachers need assessment of our work based on a combination of measures and reviewers, with teachers taking responsibility for our own professional growth based on mutually established, student-centered goals.
To get there from here will require transformed thinking and some significant power shifts, neither of which, history reminds us, come easily. But I believe we are on the verge of such a shift as teaching finally morphs into a true profession. One of the trademarks of a profession is peer review of each others’ work against high standards established by the profession.
So, what should teacher evaluations look like? They should look like the teacher. They should look like the students and the classroom in which those students learn. Teacher evaluations should look like the grade level, content area, and community the teacher teaches. They should look like the goals that teachers, students, and administrators set for themselves, their classes, and the school as a whole.
The point I’m trying to make here is that a lot of the evidence that indicates teacher effectiveness is dependent on context. Sure, great teachers are great leaders, and great leaders can lead anywhere, but you run into a problem when an art teacher is evaluated on the standardized test results of one grade level in mathematics. Evaluations need to be multifaceted, taking into consideration not only student performance on standardized tests, but the academic growth of students as demonstrated by a portfolio of artifacts, the relationships that teachers build with students and their parents as demonstrated by student and family evaluative surveys, and observations from not only administrators, but peers and master teachers.
Powerful pieces there. Read the rest (and more opinions) here.
We are in a profession that needs voices on the school level discussing teaching. With so much misinformation getting out about the teaching profession, it’s not enough for teachers to stand by and let evaluation happen to that. We ought to shape policy and create our own solutions.
Hey John and Jose,
On November 17, CTQ ventured into its second #teaching2030 Twitter chat. The topic for this chat was measuring student learning, and more than 50 people weighed in. Some were familiar names from CTQ’s Teacher Leaders Network (TLN), but others were new to these conversations and to CTQ. A few people who follow me on Twitter joined in. This chat seemed like the start of a much deeper conversation, as we only had a chance to scratch the surface of the topic. Still, the participants shared some amazing insight (You can view the chat transcript here.)
We began this Twitter adventure to give people a place to discuss and add to the ideas presented in the book TEACHING 2030. I have been on Twitter for a bit more than a year and have participated in chats in this format. But this was only the second one I have facilitated. It can be daunting to express yourself in 140 characters, and even more difficult with a complex topic like assessment. That didn’t limit the free flow of ideas, and the format seemed to pull the essential questions to the surface much faster than a webinar or any other longer discussion could.
Participants raised some powerful issues, such as parents’ involvement in assessment, that provoked deep thinking. Commented one participant: “Parents often only see the final grade. We should teach them to focus on progress/what the child has learned.” The opportunity has never been more present to help parents focus on narratives of student learning.
Several in the group offered suggestions, ranging from making the language we use in assessments more parent-friendly to moving toward more descriptive grades. Teacher Dave Orphal tweeted: “If you see your kid act in the play, you don’t need to see their grade in drama class.” Another teacher shared a positive assessment experience: “We had kids demonstrate proficiencies and showed results to parents. And when we had ‘exhibitions,’ parents were invited.” A Tweeter chimed in with a parent’s point of view: “Pre & post tests are excellent assessments! My son and I just had this discussion.”
The take-home message of all this is that we need a good road map of where we are and where we are going with our students. This is nothing new. What is different is that we are asking the important questions in a medium that allows for real-time conversations among a diverse population. Twitter has been described as a great force for democracy. To pose a question and have a large group of educators, policy folks, and parents probe, think, and answer is both democratic and powerful.
Though we didn’t have time to answer many of the questions posed that night, we have started a conversation that will. Twitter is an amazing format for elevating teacher voices and spreading great ideas and, yes, answering tough questions. The value of the medium is in the diversity and number of the participants. Your voice, your ideas, and your questions are all important. I came away with a dozen new strategies to improve student assessment in my classes. It amazes me that this all happened within the limits of one hour and 140-character tweets. I hope you can join our next #teaching2030 Twitter chat—on teacher evaluation—December 15 at 8:30 p.m. ET.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to jump on a panel at Bank Street College with a few education colleagues (including representatives from Hechinger Report and Gotham Schools) about education and the media. Save for a few questions about my blog (see: teacher voice), the general topics at the panel centered around perceptions of teachers in the media. Teachers on the panel were asked how they felt about the constant teacher-bashing by the Rush Limbaughs and Fox News pundits while education reporters and researchers discussed how difficult topics like value-added measures and teacher working conditions were to fully write for the American public.
One part of the discussion that struck me was teacher preparation. While I have a hard time recalling every bit of the conversation, I remember I mentioned three things (which you’ll probably recognize)
- We ought to have differentiated pathways into the profession, so long as …
- We find ways to ensure that teachers are adequately prepared for the system they’re encountering
- There’s a certain privilege in attending places like Bank Street in the kind of education those students receive that I didn’t necessarily get
I might have gotten under some people’s skin with the last statement, but there’s an element of truth to it. In no way am I suggesting that we only need to come from so-called elite colleges. Actually, I’m suggesting we need to discuss what we consider “elite.” There’s a functional difference between a college with an awesome name but whose students don’t see a correlation between what they learned in the ivory tower and their experience in the classroom. While most teachers surveyed here believe that their teacher preparation program was satisfactory, they tended to trust in-school dimensions of their preparation much more than anything the college can provide. That probably has to do with the fact that many colleges concentrate too much on theory instead of practice.
Thus, the place doesn’t have to be elite in name, but functionality.
I know plenty of folks who graduated from a smaller school, but whose professors gave them the rigorous, thorough foundations to at least get the technical sides of the profession right before they came in the classroom. Things like lesson plans, unit plans, rubrics, assessments, creating independent thinkers, differentiation, and questioning don’t come naturally to people and have to be taught. Some of this stuff requires tons of professional development from inside and outside sources. Walking into the classroom and surviving (!) the first year is hard enough without knowing how to create a critical question from the top of the lesson, but if we’re given the tools and techniques to withstand the culture shock of standing in front of a live audience for 10 months out of the year, then that goes a long way in creating a stronger teaching core.
In a way, educators who believe in this Teaching 2030 vision are, in fact, seeking a secret technocracy, where the merits of our most expert individuals hold more merit than the whims of an appointed few. In this case, the experts happen to be educators, educational researchers, and those who seek to enhance this valuable profession for our students. We can’t rely on the unreliable (i.e. standardized tests) to tell us whether teachers actually matter. We have lots of evidence for things that do matter, though, and one of those is whether people can push out of their comfort zones and into the mode of a professional teacher.
New teachers entering in the profession deserve the best foundation possible, and secretly, we’re going to need a few more technocrats like us.
I wanted to share a guest post I did for the online discussion portion of Learning Matters, John Merrow’s education show. I wanted to write, “I am thankful to you for standing up for teachers for 30 years.” I knew that wasn’t what he wanted when he asked,
“What about the current state of education are you most thankful for?”
I am most thankful for increased focus on accomplished teaching in our public schools. Over the past several years the rhetoric about teaching has been mostly focused on the mediocre and failing teachers in our public schools. A crescendo of teacher bashing, which began in 2010 with the L.A. Times use of value-added measures to publicly “out” good and bad teachers reached fevered pitch in February, 2011 when Gov. Scott Walker stripped collective bargaining rights from teachers, seems to have abated. The likes of Joel Klien, Michelle Rhee, and Chester Finn have changed their tone in the popular media these days. It may be due to several thousand teachers standing up for themselves in July at the Save Our Schools march or it may be due to the increased number of young and seasoned teachers speaking out about education.
One might call me foolish. I don’t spend much time reading local newspapers online so I am not so exposed to the everyday comment venom spat by Joe the Plumber types across our nation. I have spent some time listening to the bigger pundits and it seems that many of those that felt safe bashing teachers less than six months ago have taken a step back from trying to push us off that particular cliff. As recently as July John Merrow described David Brooks as one of the band of conquistadors in the education wars.
Yet, in September I attended the New York Times Schools for Tomorrow technology and innovation conference and was pleasantly surprised by David Brooks. All of the panelists, including Klien and Finn, seemed to show a little more understanding of the learning process than they previously seemed capable. In the opening session David Brooks said,
“… people learn from people they love, they don’t learn from computers they love, and anything that gets in the way between the relationship between the teacher and the student is something I’m likely to be skeptical of.”
This step back from the edge of blaming teachers and increased focus on the relationships great teachers have with their students is new. It may have been because the NY Times made a big deal about inviting some teachers to come to their education conference, after a bit of fuss was made about the lack of educators on the panels but, this too is heartening. The fact that the NY Times would back track even a little bit to include teachers means that teachers will no longer be left out of the public discussion about what happens in our classrooms.
BIO: John M. Holland has dedicated his career to serving the neediest and youngest school children as an NBCT preschool teacher of 3- and 4-year-olds from Richmond, Virginia’s toughest neighborhoods. Currently he writes about Pre-K issues on his blog Emergent Learner. His passions include educational policy, teacher leadership, creativity, and 21st-century learning. He is a coauthor of TEACHING 2030 and continues to explore the Future of Teaching.
First, let me say how shocked (SHOCKED) I was to see that Ron Thorpe actually reads our blog. I’ve known him since he moderated a panel Ariel Sacks, Barnett Berry, Jon Snyder [President of Bank Street], and me. As we ran into each other at different events, most recently at the MetLife Foundation 35th Anniversary gathering, I realized how awesome it is to have access to some of the most active and influential minds in education … meeting with some of the most active and influential minds in the classroom. Yes, he’s worked in the field of progressive education for decades, and he carries those listening skills wherever he goes. But it seems that we don’t just hope to gain some wisdom from him, but also have a conversation in the truest sense of the word.
Back when we set a course to deliver a message for education, about education, and by educators, we had a hopeful and realistic vision of what we believed 2030 could look like if the right minds got into the huddle with us. The difference between our study and so many others is that we didn’t come from a strictly policy point-of-view, but one of a practitioner with our hands firmly in the work of building better schools one classroom at a time. We didn’t want to simply wait after dinner was served and then join for the dessert menu when all the rich conversations were gone; we had our own dinner table this time with allies in the form of CTQ guiding us in the charge.
As we continue to push this message of teacher as expert, we’re speaking truth to power in a major way. Our voices over the last few years have reached teachers, parents, college presidents, leaders of non-profits, and leading ed-researchers. The work being done in these small enclaves is multi-faceted and important all the time. Why settle for just one dimension of education we’d like to tackle when we have so much talent? While some of our interests lie in policy, others have gravitated towards pedagogy. Wherever we land, we must swim in it with both feet.
With people listening in on voices like yours, it’s become clear that we’ve made a dent. While there’s been a large discussion around certain entities capitalizing on the definition of “ed-reform,” there is a growing movement in the minds and hearts of people doing the real work to ensure that the people working closely with children have a huge say in what happens, and not as a token response either.
Even a simple comment on a blog can make that abundantly clear.
I was stoked to find out that a National Board Certified Teacher from New Mexico, Michelle Felis Accardi has been named as director of state policy and advocacy for the organization. Her statement,
“It’s an honor to be associated with an organization that has set the bar for what it means to be an effective teacher,” said Accardi. “I look forward to creating partnerships with state and local agencies in an effort to expand board certification and other NBPTS initiatives throughout the country – all to benefit our nation’s students and communities.”
It appears that Ron Thorpe may be exactly the right leader for the future of the NBPTS.
This is what the future of accomplished teaching looks like, and it is hopeful.
Hey Jose –
As you know, I have been following the NBPTS search for a new CEO as both a disenchanted NBCT and a passionate teacher. A little while ago the new leader was announced. Ron Thorpe, Vice President & Director, Education for WNET public TV in New York, seems to be just the candidate the NBPTS needs to create a new culture for the organization charged with defining, evaluating, and promoting accomplished teaching in America’s schools. Below is my open letter to Ron that describes what I think he might need to know about accomplished teaching and the NBPTS and what I hope he can accomplish during his tenure.
Dear Ron Thorpe
President & CEO
National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS),
We know what great teachers do. When we peek into their classrooms, it’s easy to see. They are engaged with students, they know their content, they assess student learning to improve their teaching, they influence their peers in positive ways, and they work collaboratively with other teachers. While easy to recognize, these traits can be difficult to measure. One organization has made significant headway, though: the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS).
For 25 years, NBPTS has worked to define excellence in teaching. Its mission is “to establish high and rigorous standards for what teachers should know and be able to do, to certify teachers who meet those standards, and to advance other education reforms for the purpose of improving student learning in American schools” (NBPTS, from What Teachers Should Know and Be Able to Do, 1989, p. 1). NBPTS has accomplished the first two goals, having established rigorous standards and developed processes for certifying accomplished practitioners, including a performance-based assessment that is widely accepted as scientifically valid.
But now it’s time for NBPTS to tackle its third goal: “to advance other education reforms for the purpose of improving student learning in American schools.” The organization has raised the profile of accomplished teaching in America—but it represents only a fraction of highly accomplished teachers. It is time to extend that reach and also to advocate for the best hopes of the teaching profession.
The Future of NBPTS
I hope you are a special kind of leader: a “boundary spanner” who is future-oriented and ready to collaborate with a wide range of stakeholders, including NBCTs.
What do I mean by “future-oriented”? TEACHING 2030 outlines a hopeful vision for how schools and the teaching profession can change to better serve all students. Improving student outcomes will require educational leaders to work collaboratively, rely on teachers to apply their expertise locally and nationally, to create a more flexible and vibrant teaching profession. And we call upon everyone—teachers, students, parents, policy makers, and national organizations like the National Education Association (NEA) and the NBPTS—to take a solutions-focused approach to creating a better future for ALL students and families.
The job description posted by NBPTS stated the organization seeks a “visionary” individual to “take the helm” of the organization. This metaphor reminds me of a sea captain or old-school “captain of industry”—not a team player (and definitely not an accomplished teacher). Doesn’t NBPTS really need a new type of leader, a passionate professional who will take a collaborative approach to improving the culture, reach, and impact of the organization?
A New Type of Leader
The NBPTS holds at the ready what may be the most powerful untapped resource for educational change in our nation: 91,000 accomplished teachers. Ron, I hope you are prepared (and eager) to collaborate with these expert educators in authentic ways. I hope that you, an accomplished executive, are able to recognize the limits your expertise—learning from and leading with accomplished educators who have a deep understanding of teachers and teaching. Here’s a truly radical idea: what if your right hand person was actually a teacher? Richard Riley took this approach when he moved from Governor to heading up the U.S. Dept. of Ed. In an interview in July 2011 Riley said,
I never made a major decision in Washington dealing with education without a teacher in the room. Normally that was Dr. Terry Dozier, who was Teacher of the Year in South Carolina and National Teacher of the Year, and had a phenomenal record as a social studies teacher. I enjoyed having people there who disagreed with me. I welcomed that and people knew that.
And the new leader must be able to collaborate effectively with external organizations, too. As NBPTS works to spread the expertise of thousands of NBCTs, organizations like the Center for Teaching Quality could be valuable partners. And of course, developing productive partnerships will be critical to the NBPTS’s financial sustainability. For example, consider the local, state, and national partnerships developed by the National Endowment for the Arts, which have improved the funding structures and impact of the arts by linking local and federal support.
Finally, I hope you are willing to support a flexible teaching profession, encouraging NBCT leaders to advocate for accomplished teaching and the changes necessary to spread our best teachers’ expertise. What if NBPTS worked with local systems to create hybrid roles that let NBCTs continue to teach while also applying their skills and knowledge to schools’ most pressing problems? For example, what if NBPTS helped a terrific teacher to spend part of her day teaching third graders—and part of her day mentoring future NBCTs in a high-poverty, hard-to-staff school?
The key point made in NBPTS’s job description were that the new CEO needs to be visionary: the word “vision” was included three times. I sincerely hope that your “vision” is truly future-oriented. I hope it is not the singular vision of a Captain Ahab type, but a shared vision, incorporating the hopes of thousands of accomplished NBCTs who have the potential to dramatically change the teaching profession.
In response to your video I went looking for a video about the future for children in the year 2030. I stumbled on a vision for the future made about 20 years ago. In 1993 AT&T produced the following ad. I was amazed at how accurate the predictions were.
I feel like I lived this ad campaign. For example, last winter I attended an online meeting with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in my bare feet and pajamas. I told him about the need for diversified roles in the teaching profession so that teachers can spread their expertise. That online meeting and several others produced the policy report Teaching Effectiveness for the New Millennium. That wasn’t possible when AT&T made their ads.
Another spot-on prediction in the ads was a reference to sending a fax from the beach. An actor puts down a “fax” machine that looks exactly like an over-sized iPad. When I showed my family the video last night my wife cracked-up when she saw the fax machine. My son asked, “What’s a fax machine?” He had never heard of them. My daughter, ever the know it all tween answered, “Its like an email or a cell phone only less advanced.”
That is how kids understand technology. It doesn’t matter what it used to be like. My son has never known a time when there weren’t cell phones. It has been almost 20 years since my father purchased a lunch box sized cell phone to keep in touch with his aging parents. Yet, I recently had to explain to my son that phones used to have “tails”.
In the video you see precursors to some of the most important web 2.0 platforms of our times including Google, Skype, iTunes, and eBooks. In your baby video she expects the magazine to do something. It is in her Operating System. I can’t help but think that for the children of 2030, if their learning platform doesn’t “do something”, they will disconnect from the process.
I think these innovations were so accurately “predicted” by AT&T because they knew they would be involved in making them happen. I would like to feel the same way about the hopeful vision we set forth in Teaching 2030. What will prevent our innovative vision from becoming real is that teachers will not necessarily be able to influence the realization of it. This is why I am always pushing for the inclusion of accomplished teachers voices in the development of policy, curriculum, standards, and innovation in schooling systems. We must have passionate, knowledgeable, and skillful teachers influencing the education we create for the year 2030 or we won’t possibly be able to accurately direct our energies in a useful direction.
I know that digital media is highly engaging to young readers. That is why we have been very intentional in how much screen time our kids get. I think the most important part of your post is that image of you and your son sitting next to each other reading. It encapsulates the key to the hopeful future, human connection. My wife and I have taken our kids to the library once a week for the last 10 years. Now both my son and my daughter are avid readers. I still read to them though. It is critical that a human being is present to mediate and maximize any media whether it is made out of silicon or trees.
AT&T was so right on with these advertisements from 1993 that I wonder what their videos would look like for the year 2030. Here are some of the innovations I see for the children of 2030.
Dear child of 2030,
Become uncoupled from your peers in how quickly or slowly you progress through curriculum
Form stronger, more valuable, relationships with teachers than ever before through social media platforms
Use digital media to hack your education, creating a school experience tailored to your learning needs and interests
Finally, you will be encouraged to pursue passion-based learning modules
Long time no see. I’ve obviously been missing in action on this side of the hemisphere as I prepare for eventual fatherhood. The thought makes me nervous but excited for this new future I’ll have. For one, when people ask me about my kids, I don’t have to say “Some of them are OK, but we’re having a hard time with negative exponents.” I can actually talk about my own at home. Secondly, the child is coming into a world that’s rapidly changing with little regard to whatever the older generations believe about the current world. As many of us relish the “good ol’ days,” whatever that means, the younger generation has already deemed the absurd as possible and the eccentric as normal when it comes to communication in different platforms. To wit, please watch this:
We knew this was bound to happen. We just didn’t know in what capacity. Not only is the baby befuddled by having these media, she prefers the newer medium, possibly because of aesthetics, but also because of the ease of us for the child. She sees the magazine and tries to use the same methods she used for the iPad on the magazine and got immediately frustrated rather than try to learn how the magazine works.
That’s prescient for those that believe that publishing is dead. After ruminating on this some more, I thought about how many purists say, “Back in my day, books mattered. Now all kids want to do is play on their little devices. They’re gonna be an illiterate bunch!” Not so fast. I can’t imagine that, back when the printing press was invented, that purists said, “Back in my day, writing books by hand mattered. Now all kids want to do is get books already printed for them and then they quickly move on to the next one. They’re gonna be an illiterate bunch.” Libraries look cool, but if we could store 1000 books in a fraction of the space, why wouldn’t we?
More importantly, if a portable reading device is more intuitive and more interactive, doesn’t that (at least minimally) connect the reader with the text? People still want to read, but no matter what the medium. Much of it is a matter of relevance and engagement. Conde Nast, for instance, made an excellent move recently by developing app versions of their magazines. Wired Magazine particularly functions MUCH better under the iPad than the print version. Computers lend themselves to a different depth than the print version. Kids get that. Why don’t we?
In no way am I saying we should dump the hard copies of everything we have. My living room has stacks upon stacks of books from all different genres. In a few years, I know that, while I’m sitting next to my son reading a book, he will, too. They’ll both have pages, both tell a story, both have an author, and both be available to us as often as we like. Mine will require both hands. So will his. Mine will require my finger tips to turn the pages. So will his. When I’m done with mine, I can put it back in my library. So will he. It just so happens that his will be thinner than the width of a pencil, and he can get his books much quicker than I can.
I recently attended the NYT Schools for Tomorrow conference that you called out for not acknowledging the expertise of teachers as innovators and change agents in the national debate on the direction of educational technology innovations. I wanted to say thank you. I am not sure I would have been able to attend if you hadn’t spoken up. I was happy to learn that most of the crowd in attendance were not capitalist know-it-alls determined to colonize and subvert public education but thoughtful and passionate advocates for a more innovative and flexible education system. I have a more thorough summary of my experience that will be published elsewhere but I did want to bring-up the importance having teacher voice in discussions of the future of education.
I was stoked that the international panelists really “got” that education in the future will require more expert teachers not less. To reach Teaching 2030 we will need reflective practitioners who are trusted and given the autonomy to innovate. After finding validation in the international session I decided to ask another question in the “Tools Available” session. My next question was too hot for the panel. To his credit, Randy Reina, Senior Vice President of Technology at McGraw-Hill School Education Group attempted to answer the question but he did not really have an answer. This was my question:
“I think the thing we are not talking about right now is standardized testing and the statistically valid form of creating those tests that wants to get 40% of kids not getting it right. I think that when we talk about technology and the reason for technology I would like to hear what people have to say about how that technology is going to be used to either support the paradigm of standardized testing or change that paradigm of standardized testing.”
Randy’s answer, I am paraphrasing here, was, “That is a good question. We really need to decide how these new technologies will be used. New technology tools could be used to create online portfolios and the like or they could be used to keep testing the same way. We need to decide how we are going to use this technology to measure student achievement.”
I was a little disconcerted. There is nothing wrong with his answer, and he was fielding a hot potato there, but it doesn’t really answer the question. I was asking these non-teacher, education experts, to stand up and agree or disagree with the use of standardized testing as it is currently implemented and how it can/will/should be changed by the next wave of technology reform. If I were on the panel this is how I would have answered it:
“When standardized testing began it was for the purpose of deciding where to put resources to make schooling more equitable. It was a paper and pencil bubble test which was expensive so it could only be administered on such a vast scale once a year. Sometimes the test was only administered to certain students, on certain subjects. Teachers knew this was good and did not argue too much. Then NCLB was born and testing became about accountability, sanctions, and honors to more tightly couple the curriculum and what teachers do in their classroom. Teachers knew, from their vast daily experience with behavioral psychology and group think that this was not good and argued. Suddenly, in the view of the popular media and the general population, teachers were arguing against equity. What technology has the power to do now is make testing and teaching synonymous through the use of continual formative assessment. Testing online is much cheaper than testing on paper and the data is immediately available. In Utah teachers have been able to take part in the open source assessment process for years by designing classroom assessments that are shared across the state to seek cross validation. Abandoning the use of the end of course online bubble test for online assessments that show growth and inform instruction as it is happening in classrooms is the step we should be taking. Stakeholders can get their accountability data from growth scores and students can make spiraling upward progress without trying to know one thing, on one day, in May.”
That’s what I would have said if I were on the panel. It may not have been the most politically correct answer but, at least someone would have pointed in a clear direction by saying, “We need to go that a-way.” Instead of saying, “hmmm, good question, but I’m not going to answer it.”