Thursday, July 30, 2009
Up ... Down ... Up ...
I would feel like a kid again, but this ride isn't as much fun. You see, I'm on a teeter-totter sitting opposite my site administrator and her little NCLB guidebook. I'm in a quandary and like Captain Jack Sparrow I have one tiny version of myself resting on each shoulder.
The mini-me on my right says:
"Your admin wants test scores to go up, you know. That means all standards must be taught in great detail before April."
Down I go.
It's opponent on my left responds with:
"Studies show that many college freshmen lack the skills required to successfully navigate their textbooks and assignments. We should teach 'out of the box' lessons that help prepare students for the rigors of academia."
Back up I go.
I turn my head as the little voice on the right speaks.
"Don't forget. Admin wants students to get goods grades too. She really frowns upon teachers who make their students work too hard. That's why she won't let you teach Algebra 2. Being relegated to teaching lower level classes is like being sent to Davy Jones' Locker."
And down we go again.
But a strong adversary speaks louder.
"It's more important to integrate projects and emphasize discovery. Teach the students what real learning is. Besides, we don't want them falling asleep do we?"
I laugh as I rise upward.
I know that I must get through the material, but I will make room this year for teaching skills like Cornell note taking, annotating texts, critical reading and analysis. My students will be uncomfortable at first. They will ask a lot of questions. They may not like reading a book about math that is not a textbook. I will have to work harder to assess levels of mastery faster and I will teach the students to do this on their own. My students will have to come to grips with the idea that success = knowledge, not points.
This should even things out a bit. It could work for both administrator and teacher. The teeter-totter will balance nicely on its fulcrum.
Hmmm ... Now I'm wondering ... How will I get off?