1. I don't negate the data nor the fact that we all can do better in our great State!
2. But I also know educators across the state are working very hard to improve scores...
3. However... they cannot do it alone!
Test prep? Not really... although it doesn't hurt, but I don't think that's the ultimate solution. It's only been around at least 100 years. So if it were the answer, we would have already seen the results.
Curriculum? An important part... but we have done this too, and still the numbers are slumping. Pacing guides... unit assessments... common assessments... I know for a fact many districts in Alabama have been doing this for years... and yet...
Scripted programs? DO NOT GET ME STARTED ON THIS... but, no... not working.
SO... what then? Are our children simply unreachable?
(OK let me just say this... if you think our children are unreachable, for the love of all that rings in the school bell, GET OUT of education, and do it now!)
So what are the answers? Gee Golly Wiz... I wish I knew. But here's what I think we should try.
1. A RENEWED focus on Reading for the LOVE of reading! I remember when my own kids were struggling with reading, and they both did for a little while... again that scripted program..., I did my best to find out what they loved, and then I bought those books and magazines for them. Sports Illustrated for Kids, Golfing books and magazines, hunting magazines... I encouraged them to Read, Read, Read... Of course I sorta forced the Bible on them too... I mean I needed all the supernatural intervention I could get!
2. A NEW focus on "HOW CHILDREN LEARN!" I do not understand why we spend so much time on curriculum and so little time on brain research and how children actually think. I also do not understand why we do not spend more time understanding the differences in our children and then adjusting our teaching methodologies to meet their needs. Social-Emotional learning is as important if not more important than our programs. I don't know why people don't believe me... But I'm telling anyone who will listen this is a HUGE missing link. In fact it may be THE MISSING link.
3. A MONUMENTAL focus on Teaching Children TO THINK! Not regurgitate facts they can Google. No... applying facts... applying knowledge... making connections. Constantly using the Socratic method. Questioning kids every step of the way. Encouraging them question themselves and their peers. A kid who knows how to think will not need to have extraneous information bogging their memories filled with testing prepping ideas. We are overloading our kids' working memory attempting to get them to remember all our little strategies they can't THINK... which is ALL they need to do in the first place.
Note this; it is your God-given right to disagree with me. And I respect you for challenging my thinking as well. If you have better solutions, let's discuss them... but do not come at me with the same strategies we have tried for the past 20 years with NO GROWTH. That happens to prove my favorite guy's (Albert Einstein, who was a thinker) definition of insanity.
Now, with all that said from my proverbial soapbox... Let me clarify what I think we need.
1. Well defined and laid out curriculum with common assessments - minimum requirement for all schools.
2. Practice and strategies for students on high stakes assessments - minimum requirement for all schools.
3. Scripted programs to aid teachers - only as a guide for those who need training, but should not become the driving force of the classroom.
1. Fostering A LOVE to read, write, solve problems, and critically think among ALL students.
2. Meeting the social-emotional needs of our kids and listening and researching how they learn and how we can help them learn better, removing extraneous interferences at all costs.
3. Building creative, problem-solving thinkers in our classrooms every single day.
Now this is my educational soap box message!
Hang on for my parental and community message!
It's on the way!