When I visit school districts, I find that folks are working hard, expending a great amount of energy, going home exhausted and yet the scores are not matching the level the energy expended in the schools. We are not getting a return on the energy and time investment that so many are making. Yet most folks are saying to me: “We are trying EVERYTHING!”
It’s like going to a diet class where the leader tells you “If you follow this plan, you will lose weight – it’s really that simple, people.” So, you faithfully follow the diet, exercise at least 45 minutes per day at a moderate pace, you attend meetings regularly and engage in logging your food intake…and you don’t lose weight. If you were TRULY following the plan and TRULY getting in every moment of exercise and TRULY exhausting every resource to prepare healthy meals and it wasn’t working, what would you do? Well, I would probably quit and say “This program doesn’t work! Even when I followed it faithfully!”
But when I really think of it, I guess I might not have followed it faithfully because I failed to write in my food journal that ice cream that I had when my goddaughter didn’t finish it, those 5-6 bites of the tacos while I was preparing them and the Dr. Pepper that I just had to have as I was driving home. Oh yeah, and there was that week where I didn’t get all of my exercise in because it was raining and I didn’t make it to the gym. So in reality, I didn’t follow the plan, yet I was the first to say “I followed it to a ‘t’ and it didn’t work!”
I find that this is so similar to what I hear from some educators: “Yep, I’m doing all of my preparation and planning for my small groups, I’ve tried every behavioral technique with my toughest student, I’ve kept in contact with the parents of my students and attended and dug into every professional development session offered by the district and incorporated every piece of advice I’ve been given by my coach or consultant.”
But I guess what I really see is that some teachers are walking out with the students at the end of the day with a bag of materials that will never be opened at home to be prepared for tomorrow’s lessons. I see that some teachers are on their phones during professional development and coming in late from breaks and missing large chunks of information. And I occasionally notice that parents are only contacted when students are doing poorly and then blamed when they don’t do “their part”. And when the coach comes in and provides feedback on my teaching? Well, that’s really ridiculous feedback because after all, you’ve been teaching much longer than the coach – what could she know anyway?
So what gives? At what point do we say, “Enough is enough!” This achievement thing can’t boil down to what I SAY or THINK I’m doing, it must boil down to what I’m actually doing – and if the scores are not budging across the board or with significant groups of students then we have to get real about what’s going on.
Do you think that as a profession we are putting our best foot forward and taking full responsibility for our important hand in the education of our kids?