Thursday, January 03, 2013

You want the buck to stop? Stop passing it then!

This post is a commentary on the shifts that are needed in schools in order to make the role of a data coach more effective.

The shift that I will comment on is this:
  • Individual accountability needs to shift to collective responsibility
As I was perusing my Twitter feed today, I came across a blog post that was titled This is how democracy ends -- Apology from a former teacher. It was posted by Lisa Nielsen, but was written by Kris L. Nielsen. The title caught my eye because I am a Star Wars fan and I had written a post about the Citizens United decision with a similar title.

As I read through Kris's accounting of the influences on modern education (Common Core, Textbook companies, Foundations (i.e. Gates, Wal-Mart), and politicians) and how it is trying to make everyone fit a cookie cutter mold and that schools will become the factories of which their design was based, I could not help but shudder at the thought of this bleary educational future.

I will respectfully disagree that the Common Core is one of the signs of an impending apocalypse. Working in Illinois, where the previous set of standards were a mile wide and inch deep, the Common Core has a lot of positive potential effects to education, if teachers and administrators only had to worry about implementing the new standards instead of making sure that every student does well on the ACT (Day 1 of the 2 day test mandated by NCLB for Illinois). Unfortunately, the latter is more the case than the former, so I can see what Kris's point is getting at.

Having, personally, eagerly awaited the release of the Next Generation Science Standards, I have a good understanding of the effort of educators who wrote these standards in an effort to directly improve instruction by narrowing the focus to the skills needed perform science at all levels--not merely focusing on a content area, but its connection to other concepts, how science and engineering work together, and a development of critical thinking skills. The Common Core for mathematics and English/Language Arts had many of the same goals.

How does all of this relate back to the needed shift? My other posts related to the shifts that are needed to make an instructional coach effective have been directed at the activities of the coaches, teachers, and administrators. I have discussed the removal of teacher isolation and that will assist with a sense of collective responsibility. Kris makes a very valid point about how all of these outside influences are pushing and pulling on education to squeeze it through a play dough mold. What made me connect his blog post with this shift if who is the individual responsible?

With all of those outside influences, the amazing (scary) thing is that the individual that the outside influences, parents, general community always talk about is the classroom teacher. I agree with what Marzano says about the teacher being one of the largest influences on the learning that the student will do in the classroom, but again, the shearing forces of those outside influences might rip that apart.

With all of the politicians, foundations, and corporations (who must have attended school therefore they know how a school should work) exerting direct influence into the classroom, I think that those people should shift from the individual responsibility of the teacher to a collective responsibility that if we want the entire nation to improve, then we are ALL in this together! It seems like politicians all want to quote Truman and have the buck stop right on the teacher's desk. I say that they need to stop passing the buck.

No comments: