Saturday, March 15, 2008

THE HOLE: Where's My Rope To Climb Out

I have made many changes with my teaching methods this year. I have approached teaching and learning more as a journey rather than an end product. I have almost completely ended my use of worksheets. I have graded students on participation throughout projects. I'm focusing my efforts on having students become part of the learning process without a focus on the end product. In doing this, I have gone against the socially accepted methods of teaching. I have come to a few conclusions.

1. Parents do not want this change to occur.
- Parents are used to graded worksheets coming home so they can monitor grades on a daily basis. It is easier to have this type of communication. There is no conversation with the teacher. They see a paper with a number recorded at the top. They label their child according to that number. If it gets too low, they might contact the teacher.

2. Children have a hard time with this change.
- Throughout their years of being in school, they have become accustomed to the socially accepted methods of teaching. They are used to this. Entering my class, they have been taken out of their comfort zone. They have to exercise their brain. They have to actually think. It's much easier to fill in the blanks on a worksheet.

3. Administrators do not want this change to occur.
- They see this change going against their ultimate goal... great test scores on the State Tests. Rewarding students with a grade for an end product is the protocol that is the norm. They don't want to answer questions from parents. They want everything to go nice and smooth.

So I am left with a decision to make. Do I continue to try to climb out of this hole that the education system has dug for the past 100 years? Or do I give in to the Parents, Students, and the Administrators?

I am convinced that authentic learning is taking place in my classroom. I see students understanding concepts, questioning ideas and enjoying coming to Science. I am right now trying to find a happy medium in which will make everyone happy. This is the hard part. This is where I am asking for help from the network. If anyone has any powerful ideas, please feel free to comment.

Until next blog...
Photo Credit: Flickr Elliot Stahl's photostream :
Dave Stahl climbing out of Bugger Hole


Cathy Nelson said...

Woody just stick to your core beliefs.I am rooting for your new way of teaching myself. I bet your classes are super engaging. And also mre than likely very rewarding to you. Make short videos to send hme. There a novel way to answer parent / admin questions!

Jenny said...

Don't give up! I have to admit that I think it's a lot easier to teach this way if other teachers in your building are doing the same thing. I'm lucky to teach 5th grade in a building in which many teachers are doing the same thing. By the time students get to me everyone (students and parents) are used to it.

I do use a lot rubrics as a way to communicate progress to parents.

A. Woody DeLauder said...

@Cathy and @Jenny,
Thanks for the comments. I work in a school where I am going at it alone. The students days are filled with worksheets and Spelling Tests. When they come to me, they don't know how to think for themselves. My goal is to try to break the cycle, but it's hard with no help.

Patty said...

Stick to your guns! My kids did the best ever the year that I went totally in that same direction. Unfortunately due to my prep changes I had to go back in the other direction the following year, but that first year of my masters thesis program it was WONDERFUL.