- The Student-Teaching Model Is Outdated: Here's How We Can Do Better - September 15, 2021
- Visualize: How Seeing What's Coming Changed My Teaching - August 16, 2021
- 10 Lessons About Teaching from My Youngest Son - June 24, 2021
- Ending the Epithet “Try-Hard” Once and for All in Classrooms - June 18, 2021
- From STEM, Let's Pivot to the BRANCHES of the Humanities - May 25, 2021
- Would Education Collapse If Teachers Stopped Working for Free? - May 20, 2021
- 10 Ways to Teach Like Ted Lasso: Part II - April 21, 2021
- 8 Tips So Your Substitute Plans Don't Suck - April 14, 2021
- 10 Ways to Teach Like Ted Lasso: Part I - March 12, 2021
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teachers: Habit 3 - First Things First - February 26, 2021
Last night I had a dream whereby I visited the high school that my former middle school students attend. While walking up and down the hallways, I saw images of things that greatly disturbed me. First, I saw students who sat silently in desks and took tests – in every room of the high school. When I interacted with a few students who were in the hallways, each of them asked me how their younger siblings were in my current class, and when I went to talk, I realized that I had no mouth. Frustrated, I continued down the corridors.
That is until I met one of my favorite students of all time. This young lady is now one of the current co-chairs of our largest student-run group, and, as a 7th-grade student, the only thing that matched her intelligence was her beaming smile. Five years later, she was sitting there, red in the face, just about ready to cry. I held out my arm for her to take, and we walked through those hallways – now busy and bustling with students, as I realized about 1 in every 5 students looked just like she did, just about bursting to cry. We continued until we could find a secluded enough stairwell where she grabbed hold of me in a tight hug and began sobbing into the shoulder of my shirt sleeve. I pried open my mouth to usher my first words, and they were, disappointingly, “I’m so sorry Ally, but this is the new normal.”
I awoke, incredibly disturbed of the symbolism in my dream to our current educational system. This dream isn’t a dream. This dream isn’t even a nightmare. This dream is a reality.
In the same school day I had five years ago, I’m expected to teach more classes. I’m expected to teach more students. I’m expected to teach inclusion and push-in students. I’m expected to work with more technology (much of it faulty as districts try to cut costs and choose the lowest-priced option). I’m expected to help new and younger staff who are overloaded themselves. I’m expected to teach with a smile and not say anything negative to students or parents. I’m expected to teach and take all the hits from politicians, pundits, reformers and other members of the public. I’m expected to teach with the standards memorized like stats on the back of a baseball card. I’m expected to teach so that I raise test scores, attendance, and morale. I’m expected to teach to the test, but also teach how students like to learn. I’m expected to teach students who are stressed out about American history but also how to deal with stress because we (teachers, parents, and other stakeholders) are stressing them out.
[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="yes" overflow="visible"][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" background_position="left top" background_color="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" spacing="yes" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" padding="" margin_top="0px" margin_bottom="0px" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_speed="0.3" animation_direction="left" hide_on_mobile="no" center_content="no" min_height="none"]All I really want is to be expected to teach. Click To TweetAll I really want is to be expected to teach.
I stayed awake for a while thinking about that dream. It especially hit hard because the shoulder that the young lady cried felt like it was claimed by her tears. I started thinking about this “new normal” that I referenced, and I became stricken with grief to the point where I felt a tear tug my eye. Then, I must’ve fallen back to sleep.
In my new slumber, I met a bunch of current and former students who called themselves “the rebels.” I came across Matt, another one of my other favorite former students, who led me around their “school,” which was just a primitive space outdoors. It was lunch time, and I saw many of these students experimenting with cafeteria staff, “rebel staff” themselves Matt told me, as they prepared their own lunch. In the back, I could see students creating art projects on their own, not just comparing themselves to one another – but helping one another. Others were designing a bridge to cross the nearby stream, using textbooks and a teacher to learn the necessary technical education, geometry, and calculus to accomplish their feat. I sat down next to a fire to hear a group of others lead a conversation about Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” and relate it to the media and dystopian movies and books of today. I walked past a group of students who sat under a light just dim enough to barely read but read away they did.
Note: nowhere in this "school" did they have worksheets or formative assessments in hand. In fact, the whole place lacked all the “buzz words” our administrators look for when evaluating us. You didn’t see any
word walls. You didn’t see bulletin boards. No essential questions. No student learning objectives. No acronyms hanging on the walls. No class rules. No unpacking standards. No tests. No Bloom’s Taxonomy. And there definitely were no “Blue Ribbons” hanging from the rafters.
I slept much more soundly after that.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]