I closed out my last post of 2015 with this:
And 2016…please be better than 2015.
I don’t even have a response to that at this point. Between everything in the world at large (the U.S. election, Aleppo, Brexit, seemingly another celebrity death every day) and my own world (job loss, financial insecurity, family challenges, career change), 2016 has had a lot of horrible things in it.
Last year I did a huge year in review post. This year, I’m keeping it simple. I’m highlighting two posts that I think sum up my thoughts on education and my teaching practices. If you want to read more posts (and of course, I want you to!), feel free to wander around this little corner of the Internet when you’re done here. Chances are, there’s something you haven’t read before.
Let’s get started.
I began the year reading an article I found on Facebook that I was convinced was a satire about the state of education in 2016–that is, until I got to the end and realized it wasn’t. My response to it, “Dear Bailey,” addresses my many, many concerns that I have with not only the writer but the philosophy that she and so many others (deformers, administrators, those who hold the power and make the decisions) share.
But then, Bailey, you wrote this.
“In my class, testing is one of the best tools to get students excited about how much they are learning.”
No no no no no no NO NO NO NO oh my God NO.
I’m trying to spare you all of the expletives that are firing in my brain right now. Let’s just say that there’s one in particular that’s getting used a lot right now.
How in the world have we gotten to a place where TESTING is supposed to get kids excited about their learning?
Ask any child, teenager, or even adult to tell you what they like about school. What helps get them out of bed in the morning to go to school? Who inspires them? What does that person do to inspire them?
Nowhere in those discussions will you find testing. Nowhere. Not standardized testing, and not even individual teacher assessments.
Things that have inspired my students:
Reading hundreds of books together.
Riding on the bus to and from the field trips.
Creating things with math manipulatives.
Playing reading and math games together.
Playing Heads Up 7 Up for inside recess.
Getting to be the line leader.
Going around the room conducting science experiments.
Having class pets.
Celebrating the 100th day of school and drawing about what we will look like when we are 100 years old.
Going outside and acting out the planets’ orbits around the Sun.
Writing a class letter to the President of the United States and getting a letter and pictures sent to us with a return address of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Those things inspired my students. Those things would inspire your students too.
None of those are a test.
Honestly? This one didn’t begin as something for the blog. It was a mental exercise while I was driving on one of those days when the possibilities of ever finding a job looked rather hopeless. At that point I only had a few reasons, and then–I’m not even sure why–I challenged myself to come up with 47 reasons, and this post was born.
Special thanks to the BAT blog for reposting it.
I haven’t been hired because…
I consider data to be a four letter word. Figuratively as well as literally.
So are words like grit and rigor. I don’t think a word that is normally used in conjunction with the word “mortis” should be used to describe lively, inquisitive children.
I think it’s wrong to stress kids out about what reading level they’re not on or how many letters they don’t know yet.
I consider growth of any kind to be important, even if the benchmark isn’t reached.
I know they all need time, regardless of artificial testing deadlines.
I have yet to see the importance of littering my walls or white boards with “I can” statements–especially when young students can’t even read them.
I think that time putting on coats and gloves and time walking in the hallway should not count as recess time.
And bathroom breaks should not be called a loss of instructional time. (Last time I checked, adults get bathroom breaks. Why can’t kids?)
I consider play to be important. All day long.
I read to my kids. A lot.
I read to them so much that I can recite some books from memory.
I give my kids time to read every day. I’ve been told it’s a waste of time. I disagree.
This is a very small blog, which is further hindered by my desire to remain undercover. So thank you to the few, the proud, the people who aren’t sure how they ended up subscribed to this blog anyway–thank you for reading.
To all of those teaching, may your classrooms defy the deformers and be like this…
In my class we sing and laugh and read and play, and I hope that’s what will come to mind when they look back one day and remember.
…and may you also keep your job for 2017-2018.
And 2017? Please be better than I’m anticipating.
There are a lot of us who have been bullied, a lot of us who left the teaching profession altogether because of it. Next month (I hope–for real this time), I’m going to be announcing a project I’m developing to amplify the voices of the teachers who are no longer in the classroom. Please subscribe below so you will be the first to hear about it, and if you know someone who is no longer teaching, please forward this to them. Thank you!