Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I Hate Meetings

Today we spent an hour determining which of the generic things we think we are and aren’t doing (but should be doing) to help our students achieve, things like teaching them reading and writing and critical thinking skills and good citizenship. In the end, we concluded that we’re doing a pretty darned good job of teaching reading and critical thinking, but we’re kind of lax in the writing and citizenship departments. This was demonstrated by having us place colored stickers next to these topics on a poster. (Pretty scientific, eh?)

Curiously, our reading scores are very low and we’re in Program Improvement, so either we aren’t as good as we think at teaching reading, or the kids just aren’t learning, despite our wonderful efforts. On the other hand, our disciplinary issues have been steadily improving, as measured by declining suspensions and detentions. Apparently we’re doing much better in citizenship than we think.

My point is that it’s a mistake to base policy on perceptions. For example, everyone teaches citizenship daily by enforcing discipline and respect in the classroom. This is necessary before any real learning can occur. Yet, since most teachers don’t create daily lesson plans around citizenship, or have rubrics or grades based on it, they forget that it’s something they teach. As a result, we gave ourselves low marks on this and may end up spending the rest of the year analyzing this deficit and giving ourselves a lot of new responsibilities to fix it.

One other point: having teachers put stickers onto poster paper is not a very good way to make them feel like respected professionals.

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