Monday, November 22, 2010

#Blog4Reform-Slow Down And Take A Step Back...

Today is Blogging For Real Educational Reform. Spearheaded by Ira Socol, what we hope is to generate 100's of blog posts about what real education reform looks like. There will be so many great posts, I encourage you to check out this post on the Cooperative Catalyst that you can submit your link to and see all the others. Better yet, why not blog about your ideas and post them there. Here is my small contribution....

I have been struggling a lot lately with my voice...

Over the past few months I have been very lucky, in that I have been able to travel the country, talking to lots of different people about lots of different things related to education. Most of it has been about social media and how educators can use it to get the professional development they really need. But in some of my conversations I have been asked to talk about reform, specifically my ideas on what education should really be doing and look like.

I have lots of ideas, most of them based on the classrooms I get to visit and the teachers I get to meet. I see what great education looks like in a lot of different places. The problem is it is not in every place. So I would go and talk about the different places I have been, the things I have seen and my ideas for reform or change.

But here lately I have begun to question whether or not I really know. Beyond that I wonder what makes anyone really know? Sure, we have ideas, but can we really say that this idea over that is best? I am not an expert in merit pay or value-added measurement or any of the popular terms that seem to be the basis for reform in this country. I do know that if I went into my classroom each day and did the absolute very best for kids I felt pretty good about the job that I was doing and (while I didn't agree with the methods) I usually had the scores to back it up.

I was reminded of this video today while I was working on another project. I think Tylor really gets to the heart of what it means to be a teacher. And I think it is what he describes that is lost on the loudest voices in the Ed Reform movement.

There are lots of people out there that will try to convince you they have the answer or know exactly the change to make. Before you drink the Kool-Aid, slow down and take a step back. Think about what you know and what is best, whatever it is, and see how that can mesh with what others are saying. If it doesn't blaze your own trail.

I am sure I will continue to struggle with my voice and my ideas. They are both a work in progress and I will continue to, each day, refine them, examine them and test them.

If you take anything away from all this reform talk let it be this. No matter what kind of change you want to make always ask yourself, in the end, are you doing what you know to be best for kids? Will what you do be best for kids? Why is it the best choice for kids?
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