We Have to Stop Pretending

Tom Whitby is an educator I have followed for quite some time on Facebook, Twitter and his blog.  I consider the man to be absolutely brilliant.  His most recent blog post is shared below:

We Have To Stop Pretending… #MakeSchoolDifferent

by Tom Whitby @tomwhitby

Earlier this week my friend Scott McLeod challenged educator/bloggers to post their five choices of things we have to stop pretending in education and hashtag it with #MakeSchoolDifferent.

I encourage you to read Scott’s post along with the collection of statements others have made. These are my contributions:

We have to stop pretending…

  • That teachers have a choice in using technology as a tool for teaching and learning.
  • That the college education made unaffordable to a majority of U.S. citizens is the common standard of success in education.
  • That content which is being taught is more important than teaching students how to curate, critically think, communicate, collaborate, and create as life long skills.
  • That seat time in a classroom is a measurement of accomplishment (placing more significance on the ass over that of the brain).
  • That once teachers are licensed and working, their relevance and mastery in the classroom is locked in without a need for further investment of money, time and support.

What do you think? What are the 5 things we need to stop pretending? When you write your post tag it with #MakeSchoolDifferent so everyone can reflect.

My 5:

  1. Engagement equals activity.
  2. What is relevant to the teacher is automatically relevant to the student.
  3. The way we have always done things is still the best way to do them.
  4. Change is optional.
  5. More of the same will make a difference.

Everyone Has a Story

It has been said that there isn’t anyone you couldn’t learn to love once you’ve heard their story.  But how often do we label students early in the school year, and never allow them to grow beyond our label?

Obviously, a part of my job description is dealing with student discipline issues.  As this year has progressed, it has been a blessing to see middle school kids grow and develop, many of them, hopefully having learned from less than great choices early in the year, now making some outstanding decisions about life.

Correct or not, I firmly believe that the past should be a learning experience, not an everlasting punishment.  How often do we take the time to learn the story that motivates our students to make the choices they make?  To steal from Annette Breaux, “Everyone in the classroom has a story that leads to misbehavior or defiance.  9 times out of 10, the story behind the misbehavior won’t make you angry.  It will break your heart.”

One of the themes in the message at church this morning was to accept and attend.  In order to do that, we have to turn loose of the old, give up control, and overcome our fears.  Once we accept, we must attend to the relationships we have with those in the church, or in our classrooms.  How much easier would it be to accept our students if we only knew their stories?

Everyone makes mistakes in life, but that doesn’t mean they have to pay for them for the rest of their lives.  Sometimes good people make bad choices.  It doesn’t mean they are bad people, it means they are human.

When I have the opportunity to visit with a student who has been “invited” to my office, I try to remember that while I know his name, I certainly don’t know his story.  I have heard what he has done, but I have no idea what he has been through.  And as I learn a bit about the story, I try not to judge it by the chapter I am a part of.

As for me, I’ve learned so much from my mistakes, I think I will make a few more.