I was recently challenged to come up with 5 ideas in education that we have to stop fooling ourselves are okay. Beginning with a blog from another educator asking readers to write 5 things they felt were still used in education that need to stop being used. I was challenged by a Twitter colleague @mcculloughmg to list 5. Here goes…
- Learning is much better when students can connect their topic to something rather than jam it into their brain. My students, being 12-14 year olds, are going through many huge changes of their brain and body need to connect their learning. Not only connect what they are trying to learn in a specific class, they need to connect their classes to make learning seamless, not have their classes in their own silo, disconnected. #1 We must make learning connected in the form of real projects that can be meaningful for students.
- Testing needs to be focused and useful in a timely manner. If a student takes an assessment, small or large, that test should allow the teacher and student to adjust their lessons and learning to continue to growing their skills. #2 We need to make testing more focused on learning and let it help students strengthen their learning skills.
- Speaking of testing. The tests students take must be about learning skills and not about content. Who better to create and curate the tests than the people who spend their time with the students working hard on those learning skills. #3 tests should be made for students by their teachers.
- Content is material that can allow for practice in getting better at a skill. Learning skills are the main focus of school. Cramming content, dates, events, numbers, facts into our brains just to get a grade are not learning. #4 Learning skills need to be what we focus on and not content cram for a grade.
- Growth needs to be celebrated. What if a student is working on a skill and does not get it the first try (call it a 2 of 10 “grade”), second try (5 of 10 grade) but nails it on the third attempt (10 of 10). In our grading system, that will work out to be a failure in the lesson or unit (17 of 30 points). With our focus being grades, failure is a really bad thing. Failure should be celebrated because it is a sign that there is still work to do. I look at learning as something that should be celebrated for growth, grit, staying with a task until they succeed, not as something that is meant to be perfected quickly and moved on quickly afterward. #5 We need to have learning be the focus and not the grades or percentages students earn. Focus on the process and not the outcome.
I am looking forward to continuing to grow as a teacher, learner, grader, supporter, guide, and sometimes a bit of a cat herder (sorry, it is a bit of a Middle School teacher joke).