Tuesday, January 21, 2014

8 things we know better but do anyway...

1). We continue to point fingers and do the same things over and over and expect different results. If kids continue not doing what we are asking them to do, then maybe we are the ones who need to reconsider what we are asking them to do. If parents just don't understand, then maybe we need to do a better job of working with them and helping them to understand. If it didn't work the first 10 times, then now is a perfect time to try something new.

2). We treat a brand new teacher/administrator the same as we do a 25 year veteran teacher/administrator in terms of their growth and improvement. Here's the deal, if our 25 year veteran folks have the same needs as our brand new folks to the profession/position, then we have a major problem. We talk about personalizing and customizing education for our students, why aren't we doing this for our colleagues?

3). We pull kids out of their elective courses (the courses they most likely enjoy the most therefore giving them a reason to enjoy school) and we put them in even more classes they are struggling with. School quickly becomes something that kids resent and try to avoid simply because we force them to spend all their time dealing with their weaknesses and their deficits. 


4). We continue to develop and implement our school schedules based on what's convenient and easiest for the adults. Let's think about this for a second. Accountability and testing seem to be more and more prevalent in our schools, but yet we are making scheduling decisions that aren't in the best interest of our students. Why don't we make scheduling decisions based on what's best for our students (start and stop time and the elimination of bells) and in turn see an improvement in test scores, which then will be what's easiest and best for adults? 

5). We continue to use and structure our learning environments in isolation and in silos with very little transferability and connectedness. Our classrooms have four walls and are packed with uncomfortable desks. Schools are designed with a segmented approach and most information that is presented is not presented with context and connection to other classes, but rather presented in isolation. The gap between the 'real-world' and the 'school-world' couldn't be more apparent, but fortunately, the same advances that are widening this gap also have the ability to shrink the gap.

6). We say we want people to try new things and we say we want our kids to take risks but yet our actions tell a completely different story. Instead of punishing students and educators for taking risks and finding limits to their abilities, we should be encouraging kids and educators to explore, discover, and attempt what has never been done. On a related note, when we reward and recognize simple 'compliance' and 'robot like behavior,' we are sending the same basic message.

7). We know that incentives and 'carrots' only work for a short time and are not long-term solutions to issues in education. Despite us knowing that best case scenario it a short-term boost, we continue to use these incentives and are conditioning students to always ask, 'what's in it for me' and 'what do I get when I'm done?'

8). We know a free-thinking and independent mind is the path to prosperity, but yet we continue to approach education as if it's only for certain folks in certain areas. We need to focus on creating learning opportunities for all... even more so for those folks who wouldn't otherwise have these opportunities. Education should be and needs to be a societal gap minimizer and equalizer, not a reminder of our differences...