Whether I like it or not, I am part of a revolution.
Education is changing at a pace heretofore unseen, and while I like to think I am part of the change, I’m not.
Two stories crossed my path this weekend that let me know I have to change what I do in my room, no matter what the Federal Government thinks is most important. One note was a post titled “Changing Role of Educators”. This post advocates radical ideas that directly challenge high stakes testing, but if the drums keep beating that high stakes testing isn’t working, I hope it’s just a matter of time before real, honest reform happens.
The other story is about a kid in Spanish Fork, Utah. My parents told me about this story, and I’ve been thinking about it all day. Then I attended #engchat tonight, which was all about cross-country collaboration, and it hit me:
Kids will read what they want to read.
Kids will learn what they want to learn.
I wonder if 50% of my discipline problems–and I have very few–happen because students know what I’m having them do is fake. It’s a hoop. It’s irrelevant.
Which I sometimes interpret as, I am irrelevant.
I know I’m not–as a teacher, I possess knowledge and experience that can benefit my students. But honestly, what do I want my students to gain from reading A Farewell to Arms or The Great Gatsby? Why do they write canned responses to disembodied, decontextualized prompts?
A wise person at NCTE told me that if I want to see true, authentic writing in my building, I needed to visit the journalism room. As a former newspaper adviser, I already knew this. But how do I create similar situations in my classroom?
Project-based learning and cross-country collaboration are surely starts, but it requires something quite big of me: giving up.
I must give up the idea that I hold all knowledge.
I must give up the idea that my students have little to offer me.
I must give up control of a lecture-based classroom.
I must give up most of what I learned in undergrad education college.
But I have a feeling that what I would gain would far surpass the experiences I currently have–which are good.
I must give up what is good to risk seeing something great.