Here are two quotes I’ve been thinking about all day:
“All I ask of you is one thing: please don’t be cynical. I hate cynicism – it’s my least favorite quality and it doesn’t lead anywhere.”
“The tension between what I’m actually doing in my classroom and what I think I should be doing in my classroom has gotten to be almost unbearable. I don’t believe that I’m preparing my students to be successful in a world driven by innovation and creativity, but the ONLY tangible indicator of my performance—standardized test scores—says that my students are not as “accomplished” as students in other classrooms in our school and district.”
What I read most in Ferriter’s (@plugusin) quote is his determination not to be cynical, but rather to hold on to his beliefs about teaching and learning despite the compromises we are asked to make daily in the name of student “achievement.” I don’t know an American public school colleague who doesn’t feel this tension.
What can we do? How can we resist cynicism? How can we go somewhere else?
In response to these quotes, I suggest we lobby for the creation of a red team per school or division made up of
- Teachers of all sorts.
- Students – especially those who struggle and/or feel disengaged.
- Parents – including home-schoolers, private-schoolers, and virtual-schoolers who will rejoin the division provisionally to champion and monitor change.
- Community partners who will invest human and/or financial resources in the team’s initiatives.
- Building-level and central office administrators who get carte blanche from the school board to speak according to the dictates of their consciences.
Each team would ask two questions:
- What’s our objective?
- What’s in the way?
The red team would report to the principal or to the superintendent and the board. The school or school system would own the objective and dedicate itself to achieving it and eliminating the obstacles to it through a project-based, balanced scorecard approach.
Or we could hang out here for a while longer and risk Coco’s ire.
Teachers: could you do this with students and/or parents in your classroom? Frankly, the idea scares me, which is probably a clear indication that I should do it. I’ve asked for feedback before, but not in a way that invites such honesty about my role in presenting obstacles to individual students’ learning. Stay tuned.