Wednesday, January 23, 2008

years, not minutes

In education, particularly those pesky nooks and crannies that deal with curriculum and instruction, reactionaries rarely survive. Teachers, like waiters in a restaurant, come and go; most lasting no more than five years. For the most part, teaching is all Sisyphus and Prometheus; immovable rock and self-regenerating organs. It's no wonder that most leave before they endure another bout of uphill peril and vulture pecking, but some teachers can stick it out.

They dig their feet into the soil, rub their hands together, and make the slow, steady ascent up the mountain. Never do they wince when they feel the sharp, intrusive gnawing on the sides of their torsos. They endure pain and they welcome the physical and mental exertion that comes part and parcel with the job. They are hybrids, part tragic hero, part visionary.

When they think of weighty words - teaching, learning, skills - they consider their students. Teachers that stay know that reacting with haste, no matter what the word may be, only makes the yearly trek up and down the mountain more dangerous.

Classes are organized minutes. "You have five minutes, students."

Teachers need years, not minutes. "You'll need at least five years, teachers."

What does the video below tell us about where we need to be in five years?


wendy hopf said...

Thanks Ken. I also enjoyed the thoughtful tone of our R&D meeting yesterday, and believe the blog could enhance our work. I am particularly interested in learning more about professional development that works. Whether the topic is integrating technology, differentiating instruction, or writing workshops... How do we know it works?

SDST R&D Team said...

This is going to sound really corny, but I think we'll know its working when we feel confident in our belief that we no longer need to teach 'it'...whatever it is.

But if we must consider the diverse nature of our student-body, then we surely can not clump the teachers into one gelatinous blob.

David said...

A core message of the literature in the binder provided was that there are many avenues for effective professional development to occur. There is no cookie cutter approach that will reach everyone, and the professional development opportunities should be diverse. I'm interested in the ways we approach professional development currently, and the ways we need to consider adding to the mix.

mwagman said...

The video captured many of the questions posed at the meeting. We need to be a flexible organization and able to have multitude of strategies for engaging students in the process of learning and assessing what they've learned.

On a related note, I like the part of the video where the hours in the student's day added up higher than 24. The jury is out on whether the human brain, as it evolved, is really good a multitasking at a high level of cognition.

wendy hopf said...

Has anyone read Redefining Literacy for the 21st Century by David Warlick? If so, would you recommend it?

ken said...

I've been to a couple of presentations by David Warlick.

I haven't read his book, but I am a regular reader of his blog and I highly recommend that we all check in on it from time to time.

I'll be honest, though: the teacher in me admires something about speakers who deliver their messages from the trenches more so than those who get by on 'thinking big' without having direct and daily access to classroom instruction.

Does that make me a horrible person?

David said...

I read a quote in the Council Chronicle published by the NCTE regarding 21st century literacies that seemed to complement the video. Thought I'd share...

"There is a fallacy that kids aren't reading and writing anymore. They are, but they just are reading and writing differently than what we've traditionally done in schools...A 21st century approach {doesn't} say that print writing is bad. It's not competing literacies; it's complementary literacy."

--David Bruce