Wednesday, March 6, 2013

What if we....DO instead of KNOW?

In this article, Bill Ferriter of The Tempered Radical discusses just that: creating a school culture based on doing instead of simply knowing
He mentions that grading would have to change from a "...focus on content mastery to a focus on demonstration of an ability to apply content in novel situations." This is something I get frustrated with when entering grades all the time. There is such a disconnect with students applying the skills we teach to NEW and novel situations. But if students felt that it wasn't about what they knew and instead knew that the focus was on the way they carried out assignments, it might be easier to join the two worlds of what they practiced on and what they need to apply the skills to.
Ferriter also encourages his readers to make a change. Obviously if you are "just a teacher" like little ol' me, you cannot up and change the whole system. But, as Bill points out, you can "[f]ind a step you can take tomorrow.  Find a step that you take a week from now.  A month from now.  A year from now."

It would be interesting to hear from others; what steps will you take?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Rachel's Challenge

Finally, a program that can get more people involved in focusing on the good things instead of combating bullying from an offensive aspect!
We had our kickoff assembly today and couldn't keep kids from volunteering to be part of the changes that need to be made.

My wish is that we embrace this, but many teachers were not very informed about it, so I fear there isn't a lot of buy in. It's going to take one Friday a month away from afternoon classes. This means we have to change our schedules, something teachers really don't like to do. But if we could get everybody on board with this I think it will really make a difference. It feels like I've been trying to get kids to take bullies by surprise by being nice to them forever but it doesn't make much of an impact. With a program like Rachel's Challenge I'm not just some crazy teacher giving bad advice it's actually something that many kids are saying actually works at their school and changes their community. The thing that I worry about is that it's still not going to make enough impact... a program is only as good as the people who are committed to it and unfortunately in this case we don't have a lot of commitment yet. This post didn't set out to be a negative one, in fact it set out to be positive. I can already see my kids recognizing things that they do for each other. We already have a chain going, a chain of action and reaction of all the nice things that kids are doing for each other. Rachel was obviously a very special kid who saw things in a way that a lot of others didn't really see them. I'm sure she wasn't perfect but we can learn from her example either way. If either communities can be changed by this why not ours?