Sunday, April 26, 2015

We Have to Stop Pretending: Challenge Accepted!

Challenges help us step out of our comfort zone of daily routines and remind us we have much to learn. If we are too comfortable, we are not growing. My personal learning network (PLN) challenges me each and every day to learn something new, and try something new. I am continuously stretched by the diversity and perspective of the thousands I follow via Twitter. I was recently challenged by David J Huber (@DavidJHuber) and his blog entitled Challenge Accepted: We Have to Stop Pretending! This challenge asks educators to identify five things we need to stop pretending about the way we see education for all students. 

In an effort to improve ALL schools for ALL students, here is my list of five things we need to stop pretending:

1. Compliant students are automatically engaged.
We often assume that if kids are following directions, completing work, and behaving that they are engaged. The fact is that kids can go through the motions just as adults do. Think about when you are mopping the floor, driving a familiar route in your car, etc. Most times we are not fully engaged with those particular activities, rather we are completing a task. In order for educators to avoid compliant students, an intentional effort must be made to determine what engagement looks like for individual students. Until then, compliance will prevail. 

2. Kids should conform to how we see school should be. 
Having high expectations for students is a nonnegotiable for schools. We must expect greatness from students, and help them find ways to achieve. Many children struggle with the hidden rules of school, and systems we have in place that have become tradition. "The way we have always done it" methods in our schools force some children to be unsuccessful. It is time for a paradigm shift where we conform to them. Our expectations for students can remain high, but we must look at ways for individuals to achieve that are more personalized and flexible. 

3. Kids are getting enough time to play during the school day.
Preschool children play all day, and learn during every second of it. As they progress through school, their playtime decreases, as content and expectations for learning specific standards increases. Play opens opportunities for children of all ages to practice social cues, face conflict and problem solve, express empathy, take turns, and so much more. We should consider the ramifications for lessening the amount of play we offer to students, and how it is impacting their ability to increase their emotional intelligence. 

4. Traditional Workshop and Professional Development Sessions are a sufficient means for educators to improve their practice. 
Educators face many challenges day to day, and truthfully we never know fully what a day will entail when it comes to working with students. Summer professional development sessions will not meet the needs of educators throughout a school year. We are developed, but we need to continue our learning and deepen our understanding on particular topics, trends, strategies, etc. in education. When an issue arises with a particular student, we need to know where to go for resources. Social media such as Twitter should count for teachers' professional learning credits, because more of us go to a media source for direct support and to learn something new. 

5. Grading practices are effective and serve the students who are being graded. 
Letter grades and even some standards based learning environments will not be effective unless quality, authentic, and timely feedback is given to individuals. Student goals, progress monitoring, and reflection must be integrated into the learning and grading process in order for kids, families, and teachers to benefit fully from grading practices. Grades often represent the finale of learning, and we need to stop pretending that they are always a true reflection of what has been learned, or a support for the students involved. 

And now, to continue the "We Have to Stop Pretending Challenge"...I call upon a few incredible educators from my PLN to reflect and create their own list. 

Dr. Ryan Jackson (@RyanBJackson1)
Ben Gilpin (@benjamingilpin)
Heidi Veal (@VealHeidi)

Have a great week! 

1 comment:

  1. Great list, Bethany. I particularly like #2 and #3!

    Thanks for participating!