Friday, December 06, 2013
Tomorrow I'll be live-blogging from the Summit Mall Food Court, participating in my first ever "Grade-In." My students past and present may wonder what I would do at a Grade-In since I don't grade. I find it pointless to attach grades to young people exploring a wide variety of dramatic experiences and processes as they make their way from childhood into puberty. However, my students know that I am constantly responding to their work and giving them useful coaching in areas such as cooperation, collaboration, brain-storming, problem-solving, research and development, recording observations, meeting deadlines, committing to projects and seeing them through, sharing and presenting, being at ease with public speaking, becoming responsible, punctual and dedicated, all the while working on developing social skills and empathy.
What I teach and how I teach do not fit into the current corporate scheme of things, ie the Common Core, forced upon us by the US Department of Education, current and past. Race to the Top is another name for No Child Left Behind with different unrealistic expectations.
Teachers are generally pretty compliant and long-suffering people. We show up for the professional development and do the tasks required and fill out the forms. But this time around, we are feeling an aggressive stripping of our autonomy -- to teach! Our job has always been to know our material and know each student. Teachers are no longer trusted to teach without constant demands from above to prove we are moving our students ahead toward one year's growth. Define one year's growth. Then collect data on every student to show that they are moving forward, lock step in unison toward the highest grade possible on The Race to the Top.
Can you imagine what would happen if everybody reached the top at the same time? Would it be a scene like Walmart on Black Friday or more like zombies over-running a shopping mall? Tune in tomorrow and find out more!