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Get Rid of the Jargon and Acronyms. Cut to the Chase.

Posted by on in Education Leadership
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Let's talk so we can understand each other.

I really enjoyed this thoughtful article which I am sharing with you today. What a brave new Common Core world! There are so many educational buzzwords I have trouble understanding them. Maybe you do too. The constant is change; the future is now.

American school teachers are unsung heroes and sheroes. We all know someone who has sacrificed for our country. My son-in-law was in the navy in Iraq. He is a hero to me. I also constantly thank teachers because these "trench veterans" are everyday American heroes.

Obviously I am not comparing a teacher to a soldier. Yet I would like to make the point that our veteran teachers know how to teach. Internet ready-made lesson plans, grading systems, scripted programs, standardized tests serve their purpose, I suppose.

Schools as I have always known them are so technology and goal oriented I wonder where the pianos and rhythm sticks have gone.

I understand the role of teacher as "facilitator" and "guide on the side". But that doesn't mean I have to like or agree with it. The role of today's teacher is rapidly changing.

When I first attended a meeting at Chapman University about getting in on the ground floor doing online courses, I didn't believe that would ever happen, at least not to this extent.

Online learning is so powerful that I believe schools as we know know them may be "reformed" or replaced, ready or not. Since I taught and breathed school restructuring, we thought we were reforming schools back then. I guess not.

As  former school public school Principal I know what it took to keep the physical plant going. I was the Head Learner, Facilitator, Manager, etc. And I didn't even have a cell phone.

It seems inevitable that ultimately many schools may privatize. Keeping an open mind until I feel I have more answers, now I have a lot more questions. I am reading The Smartest Kids in the World, and How They Got This Way. I wonder how relevant three countries' methods will be in schools of the future, which are online?

If we can take the best from all sides of the equation, add rigor but keep the creativity, bring back the arts, trust and support teachers again, go for it. I certainly agree America's schools must be top-notch to remain competitive. I'm just not sure what direction this needs to go, and what new schools of the future should look like.

In the meantime, I wish everyone would speak together in commonly used, easy to understand language. How can we hold a civil, collegial conversation if we aren't using clear words? For example, I don't think "rigor " was supposed to have the many connotations it evokes.

I'm for whatever works, supporting public schools and great teachers creating gifted, talented confident, capable readers and learners.

Since I've joined Twitter, here's a sampler of terms which have multiple meanings, depending on our background knowledge. I am not attempting to define them.

I see the virtue in many, especially project-based learning and genius hour. So please know I am open minded:

  • Flipped classrooms
  • Blended learning
  • Data walls
  • DAP
  • Common Core;
  • Cut scores
  • STEM
  • Race to the Top
  • Project Based Learning
  • Genius Hour
  • Data -driven instruction

And that's a mouthful. 

 To America's public school teachers, thank you for making sense of the extraordinary times we live in and the possibilities of excellence for our future.

Leaving footprints on your reading hearts,

Rita

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Modeling the art and craft of teaching reading for 46 years, Mrs. Wirtz taught language arts, speech and reading at all levels preschool-adult, including penal. She served as Pre-school and K-6 Principal. Rita was also a Curriculum Consultant, ESEA, Title I Program Evaluator and literacy trainer. At the university level she taught school administration in the Bilingual Cohort at CSUS and National University, Sacto. Mrs. Wirtz also taught all reading courses for Chapman University for many years in Sacramento and Placerville, Ca., and mentored student teachers. On the national level she was a well known motivational Keynote Speaker and Seminar Leader. Most importantly, Rita walked the talk, teaching with teachers in more than 500 K-12 and special needs classrooms. Rita authored books, publications and Pre- YouTube, videos were filmed by San Diego County Office of Education. Calif. ASCD authored companion book guides, and Calif. school districts correlated her basic skills instruction with State Standards. Mrs. Wirtz' newest book is Reading Champs! Teaching Reading Made Easy, a review of the basic building blocks of English and Reading. Rita is currently teaching in a multi-age, fully incuded preschool, ages 2-8. Find Mrs. Wirtz on Twitter @RitaWirtz, Facebook and website- www.ritawirtz.com.

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Guest Monday, 05 December 2016