Well, things at school are getting interesting. It’s testing season and that translates into crunch time. We’ve increased the number of students we’re seeing in RtI. It’s way too many to be effective but, we do what we have to. Education has placed so much information on standardized testing that we’ve lost the true purpose of education.
A literate population makes a stable, adaptive workforce. When you have a workforce that is illiterate, you are forced to replace them one way or another. We are failing our future by basing graduation on a few days testing. The ability of a child to perform to their best on a few specific days throughout the year is unreasonable. The children are feeling the pressure and the teachers and administrators are really pressured. I wish legislators could be evaluated on one day in their jobs, and their yearly salaries were tied to that one day’s performance. It’s the closest comparison that I can come up with. I’m willing to bet they’d never go for that, yet that’s what they are doing to our children.
As you can tell, I’m not a fan of high stakes testing. I believe believe in accountability for both teachers and students. With that comes accountability for parents as well. From the time of conception. Moms-to-be should make sure that they get prenatal care and remember what they take in, their baby takes in. From there on it’s about putting the needs of the children first. When children are in school, they need to go to bed at a decent hour during the week. Not going to a party with Mom and trying to sleep in a corner. Parents need to make sure their kids have a good breakfast. There is no excuse for this as the federal government has provided breakfast to all students free. It is the most important meal of the day and for children trying to learn this is even more so. And children need time to do homework. They do not have to have every minute of their time scheduled and structured. Imaginations have to have free time to grow.
Teachers need to always be looking for new ways to reach their students. They need to make sure they know what the interests of their students are and develop relationships with their students. When teachers have a positive relationship with their students – one in which students know what is expected, that the teacher truly cares for the students (not only their test performance but also them as an individual in every way.) and is there to be a champion for them. The teachers need to be prepared. Arriving at school late and with nothing planned for the students to do when they walk in the room is asking for a chaotic day that will result in little or no learning. Teachers also owe it to their students to document….document…..document…..behaviors, academic progress, and any other issue that influences the progress each student makes in the classroom. The teachers of today have to be able to manage their time so that they are working more efficiently. Teachers also have to learn to be quiet. There are times when listening to the students discover is more powerful than telling them what they need to know.
School districts and governments need to properly vet the teachers they hire. Then they need to trust them. If they don’t trust them, document the mistakes, and release them. Governments also need to consult with teachers or experts in the fields before making laws concerning education. Many of the expectations set for students are developmentally inappropriate. The only way teachers can get students to reach mastery on tests over these is through tricks. When you teach with tricks, you don’t teach content or true understanding. Without that, there is no real learning. This could be prevented if the science behind learning was consulted when developing the standards we set for each grade level and each subject. I would suggest standards that focused on problem solving and learning how to find answers. This would make for a much more literate populace.
Well, this is my rant for the evening. I’m going to bed so I can try to make a difference tomorrow in public education.