I’ve always been a compliant person, afraid to go against the rules. I never really analyzed why until lately, until I felt like I wanted to break the rules, well at least within my classroom, within education. And, I need to say it’s not because I’ve become a rebel, but it is because I have asked myself everyday of my career that question most educators ask, “Is this what’s best for kids?”, and well, over the last couple of years I’ve gotten some major pushback from that question I’ve been asking while planning for my students.
I was listening to a Bedley Brothers podcast Saturday during a garage clean out. It was a flashback episode where Daniel Pink was a guest. The three gentlemen talked about lots of things, but the one thing that really struck me was when Pink said something to that effect that it’s sad teachers have to break the rules to do what’s right. I agreed 100%, and I felt bad for all of us educators. How many of us feel bad or don’t try something we know would be great because it would be “breaking” the rules?
It got me thinking about rules and what they really were.
Webster says the following:
The definition says its “what is allowed”. It even calls rules advice. When you see the word defined, it doesn’t seem near as bad to maybe “break” a piece of advice if you don’t like it or a statement that says what’s allowed. Statements? Advice? I don’t listen to a lot of statements or advice, so why should rules, if they’re synonymous, be any different?
Then, I thought who gave these statements or advice about the way things are done in education? Who set the rules of desks in rows? Who decided after everything taught a standardized, multiple choice would be best? Who decided mini-lessons were the best way to “do” teaching? Etcetera. Etcetera. Etcetera.
I don’t know what makes some things go “viral” in education and what makes others not. We are all experimenters in our classrooms everyday as far as what is best for our students that current day and what is not. Each individual teacher knows what is best for the learners around, and the only way we can go wrong, the only way we can “break the rules” is if we don’t do what is best for the learners involved, if we stick to the “education rules” for compliance sake.
So, here are some statements and advice I’d like to try and “break” this year.
- Assessments-I’ve been on a mad hunt for relevant, authentic ways to see what students know. Stay tuned for a post on this. I’ve been do a lot of thinking with my teacher buddies as we try to upset the assessment, grading world.
- Spaces-Definitely the space, the learning space will be shaken. I like the idea of creating spaces like the most Innovative Places have. Here’s a link to a google doc of articles, design tools, thoughts on learning spaces-A place like this.
- Walls-I’m not talking literal here. I’m talking about removing the figurative walls we have our learners in. There’s so much to be learned here. I love participating in #globaledchat on Twitter. I always learn so much from this chat, not just about Skyping and Google Hangouts but about cultures and the flattening of the world in a good sense.
- Engaging, Purposeful Professional Development. I’m still gathering information here. I’ve read many recent blog posts, research articles, and teacher surveys. I tend to fall back on what I know about learning–the more authentic and personalized I can make that specific teacher’s learning the more effective it will be. I have ideas of creating two minute tech tutorials created by students that I will house for teachers, but there’s lots more rules that need breaking here. More to come and advice welcomed.
- Digital Citizenship-community wide. I hope to help empower students, teachers, and parents to create a digital footprint for good. A smart lady, Brandy Ramirez, told me about a “techsperts” club she started at her school where the students were the tech experts. They helped out the teachers who were in need of tech assistance regarding a new app or digital tool. This gave me an idea to do a similar thing but also have these techsperts available to teach parents, grandparents, or anyone else who wanted to learn about the new technologies. This will take two after school days: one for a techsperts training/work session, and another for allowing the community learning to occur. I think it will be awesome. It may encourage some tech leery teachers to step forward as they see it being such a community event.
So here’s to ignoring ADVICE and STATEMENTS that aren’t best for learners.