"Although no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending." -Carl Bard
Have you ever felt the tug to do New Year's Resolutions? Call it peer pressure or guilt, I often feel the need to set goals for the upcoming year.
Last year I took the #oneword challenge. I chose to not advertise my word in an effort to stay grounded and focused on what I needed to do to be better. My word was Relationships. In my opinion this is not an area of glaring weakness, but sometimes I get so busy with life that I forget to focus on what really matters.
This year, I have my own goals and resolutions that I will focus on, but this post is more about Challenging the Status Quo in Education. I do not believe education is broken, but I do believe it needs a significant overhaul. Here is my list of Resolutions I wish for in education.
1) Let the Professionals Be Professional! Several weeks ago President Obama set in motion legislation that would essentially give back High Stakes Testing to State Governments. He stated, "Learning is about so much more than filling in the right bubble." I agree! But we can do better. I challenge State Legislators to END High Stakes State Testing. Standardized Testing was never supposed to be High Stakes. When first introduced, Standardized Tests were designed to help schools improve education. Now they are tied to funding, and viewed by many as a way to place blame on educators.
2) Can't We All Just Get Along? During my lifetime the tug of war between Elementary, Secondary, Higher Ed and Employers has been poisonous. Employers point the finger at schools and universtities and say the people they are hiring are not ready for the "real world." Higher Ed then points the finger at high schools and says these students are not college ready. Secondary looks at elementary and says these kids aren't at grade level. The blame game is destructive. Let's STOP! It must start with Higher ED shifting a focus away from memorization, ridiculously long essays, and lecture driven classes. We need Higher ED to embrace the mindset of problem solving, creative thinking and relevant learning. I'd love to see more internships for Freshman and Sophomore students.
3) How can I help you? I think it is safe to say that we all agree that all people are different. My question is, If we believe this why do we continue to clump people together and teach them the same? The time is now to shift to personalized learning. It starts with differentiation and then comes individualizing, and finally we arrive at a personalized approach. If you aren't differentiating, the simple question is, Why? Do you think all people are the same? This shouldn't be for just students. As educators we should be personalizing professional development for all. Some activities call for full group participation, others call for personalization. The time is NOW to make the change.
4) Society, what is wrong with you? I recently took in an NBA basketball game and I gotta say, YUCK! Minus a few really elite players you've simply got a bunch of high paid athletes with mediocre skill. The NBA is a gold mine, but why? I can honestly say, I felt bored watching the game. It was predictable and bland. Sure you get a few moments where you cheer, but by and large, you know the superstars will get the calls and you can typically predict who will win. Yet these athletes make millions. Our teachers make FAR, FAR less. The world seems backwards. There is a popular saying, "Those who can, do; Those who can't, teach." This couldn't be farther from the truth. Great teachers change the world! We all have a teacher that sparked us, changed us and brought out our passions. These are the people that should be making millions.
5) Anybody have the time? For far too long schools have been dictated by seasons, age, and time. The outcome is very predicatable and this system will benefit some, but definitely not all. The time has come for us to throw out time restrictions. Why do we have to be an 8am - 3pm educational system? I relish the chance to overhaul the system. I'd love to see secondary students have the opportunity to sleep in and go to school at a later time. I'd like to see flex schedules that allow students to do internships or work study programs at all parts of the day. Times have changed, but our system has stayed the same.
6) Just Stop Already! Nothing gets me more fired up than a legislator telling me what is best for schools. When an elected official takes office they have a duty. Unfortunately they also ALWAYS have an AGENDA! But they shouldn't. The role of an elected official is generally the same. They are: listen to concerns, review policy, support your area, help find practical solutions to problems, and serve the people of your region. That's it. End of story, please stop telling everyone what is wrong with schools. Truth is, most government officials haven't been in a classroom in years. They are going off of standardized test results and a few "sky is falling" individuals. Schools are not broken, we would love your help and support, but we are certainly not broken.
7) The Rollercoaster ride needs to end. My entire life I've worked with people. It's what I love to do, but one thing frustrates me. People in general are full of drama. I've watched it time and again. Let me ask you, do you know someone that is a constant positive influence? If you do, think of this person. I bet this person is a lightning rod for good! The challenge is, can you get rid of some of your drama? What is bringing you down as a person? Money? Weight? Relationships? Whatever it may be, I challenge you to get control of yourself and eliminate some of your drama. Nobody wants to associate with the drama filled individual.
8) Contagious Kindness. The final wish for 2016 and beyond is for people to simply be kind. If we all chose to value and appreciate the little things. If we all chose to not take for granted our health. If we all chose to stop and smell the roses, we would be a whole lot more patient, happy, and forgiving. My hope is for kindness to always win.
I intentionally stopped at eight. I feel as though I could easily get to ten, but I'm not. My question is, what would you overhaul in education? What resolutions would you make to help education move in the right direction?