Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Word About Freedom...

I want to say, first, thank you to those who left comments about my last post.  I find it encouraging that other professionals in my field see what I see in meeting student needs.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

I would like to make a personal post about my freedom as an educator.  I am lucky to work on a campus where I am supported in my lesson choices by administration.  I feel that I am free to teach the way I want to, as long as I meet state and district standards and expectations.  (Believe it or not, there is freedom in that!)

Our district provides us with many lessons and guides on how to teach material.  As an experienced teacher, I see those guides as most appropriate for new teachers.  Experience allows me the ability to meet expectations while adding my own "twist" to them, if you will.  Now, I happen to like or agree with many of the methods given to us.  I am very willing to try something new...who knows, it may be better than what I've been doing!! 

Sometimes, those of us with experience don't want to stray from what we know works...and, sometimes, that can be a mistake.  You HAVE to try.  New teachers need to know that the material is a guide, not always a MUST DO.  Part of what makes teaching so fulfilling is adding a little of "me" to what is provided.  Be brave...take risks...when you know better, do better.

What I am finding out with my quarters is that, after years of test prep teaching (no one's fault...that's what standardized testing has required us to become!!), they are unable to adjust to the new type of test.  In other words, they are having difficulty generalizing, thinking beyond the text, and putting what they really do know into answers A,B,C, or D.  Previously, they could almost find every answer they needed within the test.  Now, they have to truly infer, predict, compare, determine purpose, etc.

I feel that, with all of the above in mind,  I relax on "strategy" teaching for the next few days and focus on the "art" of teaching.  I hope that I am doing this with my lessons.  We shall see...if anything, I know for a fact, that my quarters are beyond bored with test prep, test prep, test prep.  They know HOW...I need to refocus on the WHAT.  It needs to be relevant and they need to WANT to understand it.  And, right now, The Hunger Games is what they are interested in.

And, if this doesn't help, well...I will have crow for dinner and return to practice, practice, practice...

I rest my case...

Since stepping outside of the "norm" requires some kind of daring ( might not work!), I want to encourage myself with a quote from the great Maya Angelou:

“I believe that the most important single thing, beyond discipline and creativity is daring to dare.”--Maya Angelou




  1. I'm with you....totally! It seems like maybe the new "Common Core" standards and new assessments to come with that are going to be being looked at project based, etc. We have only glimpsed as our district is going to be piloting it, but at least it seems like it's more than A,B,C,D.

  2. You need a "like" button. Oh, never mind, I will tell you in about 30 minutes. :-)


  3. I am your newest follower and so happy I found your blog.. what a strong, wonderful teacher you seem to be!!
    Great attitude and I am looking forward to reading more in the future :)
    Love to Teach Third Grade

  4. I appreciate your ability to try new things while having years of experience. Not many people have that!
    When are the new tests being rolled out? And in which state/states? I'm working with teachers in Austin Texas and haven't heard of tests that are trying to address higher thinking skills.



  5. Patrick, I am referring to the Texas STAAR exam. Based on the information given to me by my district, the benchmarks, and the few release questions the state has released, our children are indeed being asked to use higher level skills to find the answers they need to be successful on the test.