Monday, April 15, 2013

From the Mouths of Higher Ups

In a recent meeting the following quotes were said:

"Our professional responsibility is a guaranteed curriculum."
"The schools that have been more successful..."
"You are responsible for every ______ grader in the building."
"What are you covering?"

Let's take these one by one.

"Our professional responsibility is a guaranteed curriculum." I'm not against a curriculum. But the message this statement sends is that the biggest thing I must do as a teacher is ensure that I am presenting the same information to every child. I think my job is much bigger than that. I also think the same thing for every student sets a pretty low bar.

"The schools that have been more successful..." This has been said again and again as justification for common assessments, common pacing, and all the team expectations. I find it disingenuous. The definition of success, in these statements, is test scores. Again, the bar is too low. And not meaningful - not for me, not for the kids, not for most parents.

"You are responsible for every ______ grader in the building." I get this one too. In fact, I kind of like this idea. But...right now there is a complete lack of any control for teachers. We don't control our schedule, who else works in our classroom, who is on our team, etc. We barely control what and how we are teaching. If you want me to be responsible for every child in my grade, allow me to do some of the things that I know will help those kids.

"What are you covering?" This one I don't get. I hate the term. I can cover all the content I want, that in no way means students will actually learn it. Ask me what I am teaching. Ask me what my students are learning? But don't ask me what I am covering.

I'm feeling a significant disconnect from those who are making decisions in my district.


Anonymous said...

What you say about success hits home so much with me--it seems like every educational study that hits the mainstream media blindly assumes that test scores are the only measure of success. It's a tacit given and no one except you seems to question it consistently. Thank you!

Also, the guaranteed curriculum--is that a PLC thing?

Jenny said...

I completely agree and I find it painful that the concept of test scores is always just below the surface. I can't decide if it's because people making those statements don't want to mention test scores so they go just up to that point or if they so completely believe in test scores that they don't even need to mention them.

As to the guaranteed curriculum, I think it is a PLC thing. I've never seen it in quite that way, but the more I read (and I'm driving myself insane reading a lot about this right now) the more it seems to fit with those ideas.

Anonymous said...

I've also been trying to do research on guaranteed curriculum and the PLC model since one of my coworkers is expressing worry that our students don't receive the same education from each teacher in our group, and I found myself bristling at this concept. I can barely provide an equal education to all of my different classes--and why stop at the school level? Why not the district? The state? The country? I'm just not sure I completely buy into the value of everyone doing the same thing. But then, maybe I'm just being contrary.

One issue I'm finding in my research is that very few people are writing criticisms of the PLC model because who's going to argue with its main tenets? They're too vague to be bad. And I want a balanced overview from people who aren't making money or improving their reputation from advocating for the model's benefits and success.