Sunday, January 5, 2014

Response to WaPo Editorial - "I would love to teach but..."

If you haven't read the editorial, you can find it here.

It is a sentiment many teachers, if not all have experience. Pressure from admin. Pressure from parents. Pressure from standards and personalization getting in the way of all the things we love most about teaching. My mom actually shared the article with me, as well as a friend of mine Jordan Hohm who teaches in North Carolina. Here was my response to here on Facebook:

Well it is true really - that is the trend. I'm fortunate in a way that I'm in a non-core area. However, even if I was, I would refuse to teach to the test and do things the way I could get the most engagement and learning in my classes. I hate grades as a whole and allow students as many redos as they want to improve their grade -that is how learning happens. I can't force them to redo, but many times I won't even give them any grade if I believe they can do better. I create or borrow most of what I do, but honestly, most of our class time has students investigating, researching, and creating, not listening to me. They have a majority of the control over their learning.

The emphasis should never be on grades - all they should be is communication at how close to mastery students are to a concept. There are a lot of positive trends in this area, and thankfully I'm in a district with forward thinking leaders for the most part that are promoting these new trends in grading and instruction that start to pull away from the standardization of things. Sadly, there is still a lot of pressure from many areas for teachers to be bogged down by matching up to all the Common Core standards that they don't feel the freedom to integrate technology or learn how to flip, or seek out global learning opportunities for their students, or personalize the learning and let students direct the learning environment.

The worst part is most of the stuff kids learn in school DOESN'T MATTER and they will forget it! We all do! We need to focus on developing more long lasting learning skills because if they have those they can learn anything at any time. We need to create experiences so students WANT to be at school, keeping them away from the perils of society that they get dragged into when they are bored and labeled as "failing". Of course, I'm still young in only my third year, but if I didn't have this passion, I couldn't teach, and I feel sorry for those that work in districts that suck their passion away. That is why Twitter and Google+ is so powerful - I can connect with like minded people, share, discuss. Even when I have a bad day or feel overwhelmed, there are other educators, principals, admins who will offer their support and advice.

Teaching is awesome, and couldn't imagine doing anything else. If anybody wants to complain about my time off, I'll trade them the extra hours outside of school, the evaluation process, the PDP process, the $40,000 of education to work in a career with very few and small raises and very few promotion opportunities, unless you want to throw $15,000 into a masters. Ultimately, you can't listen to those people because they have their own battle and can't possibly understand what it is to be a teacher. I know I love my career and that's that. Ramble off.

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