When we consider what we teach students, we must ask ourselves why every piece of content is where it is. Who owns the learning and how can we empower students more and more to be in charge of what it looks like?
Leaders in schools come in all shapes. How a character in "Dead Poets Society," teacher Mr. Keating, can be a model for earning students' trust and respect.
We cannot afford to cut funding to the arts. It is the arts that generate a sense of humanity that connects all of our contents together. As classroom teachers of any content, we must consider the powerful skills associated with the arts and incorporate them into all of our lessons. Whether drama or art, media formats or music, the addition to these assorted techniques can enrich any learning environment.
Schools don't have to keep doing things the way they always have, not in terms of curriculum, assessment or learning spaces. There are ways to start making changes that can truly inspire and reinvigorate the learning process.
Because I need that creativity all of the time, especially in my job, I need to find ways to better center myself in the thick of all of it. When I was in the classroom, my students and experiences drove deeper learning that I wrote about and shared, there is nuance in the leader role that doesn't allow for the immediacy of that exchange any longer. However, since I'm learning new things all of the time, I need to find a way to channel that learning curve into shareable nuggets.
Ultimately, as reflection often does, it has led me down a rabbit-hole of more questions that I hope will shed light on the path to take for next year as the journey continues. I'd like very much to be as great, if not better at this than I feel about my abilities in the classroom. And although I've been reminded to stop thinking like a teacher, there is a part of me that will always retain those connections and commitment so I can continue to empathize and build capacity to the best of my ability.
While we are doing all of this stuff for the folks on our team, we also have to stay true to ourselves. Although we may not be able to go at the pace we wanted, we should still act with personal integrity, so we never lose sight of what we believe.
Almost certainly, I will never love testing or scores or any kind of evaluation that labels people insufficiently whether it is a student or a teacher, but I understand that in today's climate that is a part of the game for now. And because of that, I will work hard to treat the situation humanely, assuming the best of everyone and hoping they do the same for me.
The lens through which we approach teaching defines so much of how success will look. It's time we invite students into this conversation.
Testing has become an unfortunate, but an integrated part of the learning process and within that are the questions established to test students' ability to think. Too often, the questions that appear easiest on the page really are meant to deceive in complicatedly simplistic ways. Questions can lie and easily mislead students. It is our job as educators to help students break apart the meaning of each question to better be able to answer in the most effective ways. Check out this excerpt from The Power of Questioning.