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Monday, December 12, 2016

Voiceless

Today as I followed a directive set, I felt terrible. I knew it was not good teaching, but I was made to do it.

I am essentially voiceless at my job now due to the management of some. They have strong directives about what and how to teach children and a strict timeline too.

I have always been an artful teacher who thinks about who the children are and tries to create meaningful projects and pathways to learning. I love to learn and see endless possibilities when it comes to learning, possibilities that are far different from the multiple paper/pencil tasks and many, many tests I am obligated to give.

It's a very discouraging turn in the road. Mostly it's discouraging because this course of action is sending the message to students that some can learn and others can't--these directives give up on children who need different and better, and instead teach in old traditional ways--the ways that sort children into familiar categories of success and no success.

The wonderful math researcher Jo Boaler would not support what's happening. Instead she would tell us to help all learners to believe in themselves with wonderful, meaningful activities that engage their interest and make math teaching and learning enjoyable, meaningful, and profitable. She wouldn't support programs that help some to succeed and others to fail.

I've tried to speak up. I've tried multiple approaches. I've asked lots of questions. I've read books and taken courses. I've taught at the college level, but none of that is regarded with any value. What matters is the tests, scores, and mandated program.

I know that I sound like a broken record. I wish it wasn't this way.

I am thankful to my close colleagues, leaders who care, parents, and students who make the journey worthwhile and are there to help. I'm surprised that my voice is so diminished and not valued after the time and energy I've given my craft, but that's the way it is.