professornana (professornana) wrote,

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The Outsiders

Occasionally as I read postings and articles about teaching, I hear the theme for Rod Serling's
TWILIGHT ZONE playing in my head. It is as if I have walked into an episode about half way through. I am confused, unsure, and very ill at ease, osrt of like walking up to the punch line of a joke.

So, when I saw this recommendation from the Gates Foundation, I had that Twilight Zone moment.

MET data show that most teachers are a long way from confidently handling the instructional shifts necessary to meet the Common Core State Standards. For example, while most teachers are adept at classroom management skills, teachers have long been taught to fit a lot of material in a short period of time, not to ask high-level questions or to engage students in rigorous discussions.

I have worked as a teacher educator for some time now, and I am puzzled about where the "data" comes from about teachers not knowing how to ask higher order questions or help students engage in rigorous discussion (and by this I assume we are talking about close reading). It seems to me that these types of sweeping statements are part of the problem preventing reasonable discussions. We are told we need CCSS and new standards. And yet what I see (as I noted yesterday) is the same stuff in a new package. Lipstick on a pig, part deux.

Other points in this article talk about the need for changes in teacher evaluation and the need for it to be done by folks who are not teachers (WTW?). We now have tested rubrics that work (and no evidence about eho developed them and how they were tested and for how long and whetger it was reliable, valid, replicable, and who funded it).

I spent some time today visiting a class beeing taught by a colleague. She is using transmedia to help kids reach literacy goals. It was wonderful to see the work they were doing, to talk to them (in my case about reading and books of course) and to see how kids are realizing that learning is in their hands. Is curriculum being addressed? You bet. But someone who does not understand what is happening in the room (run workshop style) might be hard pressed to point out which objectives are addressed and how and where and when. If an outsider were to come in to evaluate, I am not certain if they would leave the room knowing they saw teaching at its most artful.

All this follows on the heels of an hour long discussion with Donalyn Miller yesterday about best practices and seeing teaching and learning with new eyes. It comes on the heels of a discussion with Karin Perry about new apps and how we can use them with our own students, I am surrounded by teachers who are quietly doing great things, assisting kids in becoming lifelong learners. They are doing this not because of some new PD on CCSS but, rather, from working with students on a day to day basis.

I know I am rambling here. So much flew through my brain today, and I have about 3 hours of sleep. Maybe tomorrow I can make more sense. But I do know that before outsiders begin dictating more and more changes, theyy need to come INSIDE and work alongside us. Get a feel for the KID and then let's talk about the curriculum.
Tags: inside, outside
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