Skip to main content

Why are We Doing This?

I love the topic that @MargaretGSimon from Reflections on the Teche has teased us with for today's #DigiLitSunday blog post.

Why are we doing this?

Why are we doing this, indeed! 

Sometimes asking this question can be risky. 
It didn't used to be that way. 
At least I don't remember it being this bad. 
When I was a new teacher, "why are we doing this?", was expected and taken seriously. 
It demonstrated that the teacher was thinking about her or his practice and the needs of students. 

Now, I don't want to give the impression that everything back then was peachy keen! 
Not by a long shot! There were schools where this question wasn't encouraged at all. 
However, at the time, smart administrators recognized that asking this question, and similar questions, was likely to lead to great conversations. In the current educational climate, it seems that asking, "Why are we doing this?", immediately shuts down any further discussions and the asker is seen as a troublemaker and not a collaborator. 

Wow! 

But, I think we owe it to our students to continue to ask, "why are we doing this?" 

Why are we spending so much time on external tests that don't give us information that matters? 
And, more to the point, why are we testing kids three times a year, more in some cases, on computers that sometimes don't work?  
Why aren't teachers' assessments of their students considered valid enough? 
Why aren't we using our time to read, write, participate in Mystery Skypes, or anything else that lets kids explore learning?
Why aren't student projects, conversations and teachers anecdotal records and observations considered valid assessments? 

Why are we doing this?

Why are we using external test data to decide whether or not a student needs an intervention
Just the phrase, "an intervention", gives me the chills, and not in a good way. 
Conventional wisdom says, "let's do a 6-week intervention to fix this student. Then, we can show "growth" on the next external test results." 
Hmmm. 

Why are we doing this?

And, more to the point, why don't we stop?



Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Mini Lessons

Sometimes, I plan too many teaching points for one lesson. For example, instead of focusing on one strategy that students need in order to become more proficient readers and writers, I try to teach several strategies at the same time. 

Sometimes, I stretch out a teaching point beyond the 10- or 12-minute time limit I've given myself because I worry that my mini lesson wasn't enough or my students won't have understood what I intended to teach. So, sometimes, I beat the lesson to a pulp one too many times, or forget to have the kids practice the lesson before they go off to read or write. (Asking students to practice a lesson after you teach it, with you right there to observe and help guide students through the process, is very effective. Try not to skip this step!)  

Here's an example of a mini lesson that lasted less than 10 minutes and resulted in better learning.

My students are in the second round of historical fiction book clubs. In a couple of weeks, we will start …

A Confession

I have a confession to make.

I want to write a book. 
A professional book. 
I think I have a lot to say. 
I think others could benefit from my experience.
After all, I have been an educator for over 30 years.

But, what could I possibly say that hasn't been said before?
What new knowledge could I add to the table?
Who would even bother to read what I have to say?

These are questions borne of fear.
Fear of not being good enough.
Fear of not being able to complete such a daunting project. 
(At least, that's what it feels like to me right now.)
Fear that I won't make time.
Fear that I'll run out of time.

But, over the last couple of days, I've gotten some encouraging words of support from the Innovative Teaching Academy - 
#ITA17 Facebook group. 

You can do it!Write for yourself.
But the message that is propelling me forward is this one: 
It doesn't matter how many times something has been said...each time someone else says it, new people hear it...and that's where you make the d…

Questions

Today's post is short and sweet because I just got back from a night of playing Bunko with friends. 

I share some questions I'm grappling with in my classroom. 

No answers. 

Just questions.

(1) What purpose do math stations serve in my classroom?

(2) How can I continue to engage writers without overwhelming them or me?

(3) How can I determine if my tangled readers are learning to be better readers from the books they choose to read?

(4) How can I strike a balance between student choice and making sure my students learn what they need to learn at any given time?

(5) Am I demanding too much from my students?

As I find responses and solutions to these issues, I will post some ideas on my blog.

Any thoughts are more than welcomed!