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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Pacing?

Many educators are expected to follow strict pacing guides. The guides are based on no learners specifically, but instead on the content expected and the days that some, distanced from the classroom teaching, feel are a good match for teaching the material

This is a challenge for many teachers. For example I am currently teaching a deep and meaningful unit, one that demands good teaching and good time as the unit information lays the foundation for all later learning during the year. Yet the pacing guide does not give me the time I need to teach the unit well. Not only does the unit demand deep teaching, but the class I have also demands a lot of support in multiple ways, ways that take time. There have also been a lot of unexpected needs--needs not uncommon when you teach a large group of young children, but needs, however, that take time and demand attention. So what's a teacher to do?

I will do what I can to teach this unit well. I will rely on the help of family members, assistant teachers, specialists, and the children, and I will push the teaching through. What's difficult about this is that it's not good teaching, and it's teaching pushed ahead by those distanced greatly from me and my students. All that I've read and researched over the years tells us that good teaching involves teaching the students first and the curriculum next. Pacing guides are evidence of teaching the curriculum first, and the children second. Even Saul Khan has advocated for teaching the curriculum in deep and meaningful ways rather than rushing important concepts. In his TED Talk he discusses the residual affect of teaching too fast and without attention to solidifying foundation skills. 

Yet, this is the way it is in many American schools--a way that I believe has to change. Onward.