Sunday, July 28, 2013

Caught Between Innovation and Legislation

As I start thinking about the 2013-2014 school year I find myself caught between two powerful forces in education: innovation and legislation.

My passion is providing my students with authentic, rich learning experiences. I have seen how captivating project based learning can be and how technology integration enhances the level of student engagement. I have seen my students grow exponentially when I focus on teaching key 21st Century skills like collaboration, communication, critical and creative thinking. Deeper learning takes place when I team teach with colleagues from different disciplines and when I provide time for my students to follow their curiosity, they go to places on their own learning journeys that I could never have imagined. This kind of teaching is organic and exciting and often messy. Failure and frustration litter the path but are critical components of wisdom acquisition. I find myself wondering how I will combine this style of teaching with the adoption of Common Core Standards and whether or not they are even compatible.

Like many educators, schools and districts I am still grappling with the new standards, trying to figure out how they will impact pedagogy and methodology. The new standards come with great promise of a focus on developing critical thinking skills and collaborative, reflective learning, but with any standardized testing there always lurks the fear that we are fostering standardized students. I am sure that there will be much professional development time devoted to the roll-out of this latest reform wave, aimed at helping teachers serve their students well. But is it possible to teach to a set of mandated, static standards while still fostering a dynamic culture of learning? I guess that’s up to me.

Ultimately, I will do what the only thing I really know how to do. I will focus on learning about my students, their needs, their passions, their learning styles and try to accommodate them as best I can. Despite innovate teaching practices and “new” standards, after 23 years of teaching my charge remains the same: foster meaningful relationships with my students, nurture them, let them know they matter, empower them and try to ensure that every child has a rock star experience every day in my classroom.


  1. uggg...I am in the middle of writing a post that in some way is dealing with what you wrote about.

    Drives me's like we are being handed some beat up old car that doesn't work but still expected to win the race.

  2. After 23 years in education and seeing one initiative after another, all I can do is what I know-teach! One of my students wrote on google+ "You can be the best teacher by being the same way you always are!" Validation indeed!