Is it time to stop pretending? #AprilBlogADay #MakeSchoolDifferent

A great view for pretending or dreaming
A great view for pretending or dreaming

Pretending is a lot like dreaming. It allows us to make the world a better place in our imagination. However, sometimes we pretend in order to cope. I think as educators we often pretend in order to help us manage a system we think we can’t change and to help us keep some “control” over our classrooms.

So what are five things it’s time to stop pretending about in education?

  • All the focus on standardized testing is okay. Well, I think we’re done pretending this is okay. Now we need to find a way to¬† change the testing culture. What logic makes us think the results of one test on one day can give us a clear view of a child as a whole?
  • We as individuals can’t change the world of education. I know it is easy within the isolated walls of our classrooms for us to feel that one teacher cannot make a difference. We need to stop pretending that this is true. We can make a difference, especially as we connect with like-minded peers. It starts with one, but as we find kindred spirits, we can make a world of difference.
  • It’s okay to teach subjects in isolation. A high school is very departmentalized. Traditionally, teachers from the science, math, language arts, fine arts, health and PE, social studies, and other areas rarely communicate or work together. This is a problem for many reasons. It places a strain on our students with testing schedules when we don’t communicate. Plus, we are decreasing the efficiency of opportunities for students when we don’t work together. It is possible to create a team environment in high school, and I highly encourage you to try it. For instance, today I gave my students a performance final that will be scored by me for the chemistry and by my teammate for language arts. We are looking for different things, and students will receive two separate grades for one assignment. Plus, the world around us not departmentalized, so why are our high schools?
  • We don’t care if our students like us. I used to pretend this all of the time. In fact, I have even told students that I don’t care if they like me. I was pretending. This is a lie. I think establishing relationships with students is important. I care deeply for each of my students, and I really do want them to like me. If they like me as a person or as a teacher, it will help develop the relationship between us and ultimately help engagement in the classroom.
  • High school students don’t need recess. I read an article on Edutopia a couple months ago about a school in Vermont that has instituted recess everyday for their students. For some reason, we have traded sunshine, wind on our faces, and running for more desk time and tests. Magically, older students no longer need to move and run. That’s what we pretend anyway. We’ve even started pretending that elementary students don’t need recess either, and then we wonder when our kids can’t sit still. Instead of prescribing some time outside in the fresh air, we prescribe pills for hyperactivity. I would love to see a minimum of 20 minutes of recess instituted for all students everyday. Maybe it’s not all outside, but it can allow students to pursue a passion project. It gives students a break and will help them focus when they return to class. We need to stop pretending that moving around periodically is not important. We need to stop pretending that our class time is too precious for us to take a little break for fun and play.

What do you think we need to stop pretending? Here’s the post that inspired today’s blogging topic for #AprilBlogADay.