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29 August 2016 @ 09:41 am
Insanity Is...  
Einstein is quoted as saying, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Robert Slavin says much the same thing when it comes to textbooks in a recent post: "So when your textbooks are worn out, or you are tired of them, go ahead and replace them with a shiny new textbook or digital textbook. It won’t make any difference in students’ learning, but no one wants students to have shabby or outdated material. But when you decide to do something to improve student learning, do not follow your textbook adoption cycle. Instead, find proven programs with outstanding and sufficient professional development. Your kids, parents, and colleagues will be glad you did."

Having served on more than one textbook adoption committee during my tenure as a middle school teacher, I concur. While it is lovely to have a text where kids can read something in common, textbooks have become the PROGRAM in too many classrooms. If this is Monday, turn to page 23 in the teacher's manual and follow the directions for teaching the class that day. Textbooks have questions to ask, directions to give the kids, activities to assign. Tomorrow? Move on to the next pages. This marching lock step through the pages of a textbook has become programmatic. The problem is that a fleshed out approach to teaching requires more than questions, directions, and a text. If the text were all that were needed, we would not still be searching for that magic bullet.

Slavin points out that what is needed is well beyond what a textbook can accomplish beginning with PD. As Karin Perry and I prepare for upcoming PD, we worry about how to fit in all that is requested of us. In 3 hours provide A, B, C...X, Y, and Z for teachers then do the same thing in the afternoon for a different group. In order to address the topics we were given, we will be skimming the surfaces and moving too quickly for some of it to absorb. What we hope to do is prepare some videos for following up on the presentation, something that allows us to go more in-depth. And still that is insufficient.

Too often, districts are looking for a quick fix. We are given a day, sometimes 2 to perform a miracle. What is needed instead is on site continuing PD, PD stretched out over the school year and longer. And of course that means an investment of time and money. It also means an investment in kids and teachers, an investment in materials for classroom libraries, an investment in a school library and certified librarian, an investment in reading aloud and independent reading and writing workshop. It means an investment on the part of teachers to step outside of comfort zones from time to time and outside of content area strictures. We must move, ultimately from investment to VESTED.
 
 
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