Education is filled with acronyms and buzzwords, some invented by educators and others borrowed from industry and psychology and even popular culture memes. Why is it that an experience as basic as learning has been so sliced and diced into so many pieces that it has become unrecognizable? School vision statements are peppered with the buzz words of the day, false testament that these things are occurring on a regular basis within the walls of the school.
These buzzwords and acronyms hold teachers captive and somewhat chained to the ideas and decisions that too often come from above and from non-teachers. Actions speak louder than words, but in so many cases it seems that the words are all that matters.
This past fall I have attended and participated in a a number of really great workshops for educators. Smart and creative people pushing the boundaries and thinking of new ways to bring experiences and learning to their students. Teachers so excited about being immersed in hands on activities. Seeing some amazing prototypes and ideas being produced by teachers and educators who make it clear that there are some really really great teachers working in public and private schools across all grade levels.
But there is one common thread that I just don’t understand. The wrap ups, the conclusions, the “how would I use this in my classroom” is far too often, “I can’t”.
What are the reasons given for this?
- There isn’t a good rubric for it.
- It isn’t really aligned to the Common Core
- How would I be able to measure my students learning?
- I can’t have students doing different projects.
- What would the quiz look like?
- There wouldn’t be enough time to do this.
So then teachers sit around and begin discussing ways that they could force-fit what started as exciting and engaging work into the more formal and rigid boxes we like to call school.
- The idea would have to be modified, the rubric would need to be aligned to the Common Core
- The instruction would have to be differentiated and adhere to the Danielson Framework.
- The idea must “look” like the ideas that the policy makers and non-educators who decide upon what passes for good education in school.
and so on….
How do teachers beat this system of constraint? How can they teach outside the system, without fear of poor evaluations by administrators? Why must teachers feel so constrained by methodologies and structures they often do not believe to be effective?
I am interested in how I can measure learning and the success of my students and how I can use data to represent what is happening in my classroom, but only if the measurements and methods are in synch with the pedagogy that I hope takes place in my classroom.