Don't blame the teachers. Blame the corporate system that is still training compliant workers who test well. -Seth Godin, Linchpin
How the system defines success:
How many times in real life are we measured by one test. Yet policy makers
have the audacity to let the future of children who are 8 and 9 years old rest
on a score on one standardized test.
Seth Godin proposes that our system punishes artist and rewards bureaucrats instead. In the state of Ohio we will soon be punishing many of our youngest artists. But who is really failing here? It's not the children, it's the adults, the policy makers are failing the children by telling 8 or 9 years old that they have failed. They are being told they have failed because on one day they did not accomplish the desired score on a test that they had to spend 2 1/2 hours of their lives taking. Our policy makers are punishing our artists. We must stop this!
Success or failure is not defined in 2 1/2 hours. Success or failure should not be defined by policy makers. There are countless ways to define success and countless reasons to take risks and potentially fail, none of which can be measured by a standardized test.
How I define success
1. Taking a risk.
3. Learning from failures.
8. Problem solving.
12. Stepping outside of your comfort zone.
Some of the most successful people we know have first failed. However, I refuse to allow my teachers or my students to base success or failure on a standardized test. We will create plenty of opportunities for ourselves and our students that are worth failing. A 2 1/2 hour test is not one of them.
How do you define success?
Have you ever had one of those days? You know what I mean, one of those days when you walk through the halls of your school and everywhere you turn there are great things happening? That was the kind of day I had today. Literally everywhere I went I was greeted with authentic learning experiences made available to students because of hard working teachers who are not afraid to take risks and best of all a generous act of kindness. Here are just a few things that I saw at school today:
1. 3rd grade students participating in a live videoconference with the Columbus Zoo. How is this authentic you may ask...well, the children are writing informational pieces about animals and so the teachers organized a webinar with researchers at the zoo to teach the kids about the importance of animal observation as a means of collecting information to include in their writing! Did I mention that they'll be writing in the style of Nicola Davies and will be Skyping with her tomorrow!!!
2. 4th grade students Skyping with Kate Messner, learning some ways that Kate plans her stories before she begins to write and how she revises. Why Kate Messner you may ask...well, because the children just finished reading her
book Marty McGuire for Global Read Aloud! This was followed up with an email from one of the 4th grade teachers who was frantically looking for copies of Kate's book Capture the Flag because the kids are begging to read it!
3. 1st grade students sitting on the floor with their arms around each other for a rather long time...this one stopped me in my tracks and gave me no choice but to stop in the classroom. Why were they doing this you may ask...well, because as they were composing a Tweet one of the students said, "Why is there an egg next to our name?" The teacher knew that it was time to stop putting off adding a profile picture to the class Twitter account (even though I've been telling her that for 2 months!).
4. And, the icing on the cake was the kindness. At lunch we ran out of chicken patties, one of our 5th graders was in tears because he really wanted the chicken patty he had ordered. Another 5th grader heard what was going on, gave the boy his chicken patty and happily accepted a ham sandwich instead! It doesn't get more authentic than this...choosing kindness!
What will tomorrow bring...who knows! But, what I do know is that teachers at my school have been inspired and empowered to seek authentic learning experiences for their students, to connect students to others outside of the confines of our school building and to embrace new ways to help students learn.
And don't forget the most important thing of all-kindness. Check out this short video by Amy Krouse Rosenthal about KINDNESS.
I hope my blog posts inspire risk taking and new ways of thinking. I hope to connect with other educators on our journey to always do what's best for children.