Link to video http://meetings.nctm.org/2016-annual-meeting/empower/
Last week, after my “Chink in the Armor” post, our district director of teaching and learning Nicole Nanny sent me this link with a must-watch message attached. As ever, her timing was perfect. Earlier that morning, I had come across a Tweet referencing Robert Kaplinsky.
“Teachers who use power to produce grades versus teachers who use influence to produce learning.”
Nicole’s message not only connected the dots but also, more importantly, clarified for me the transformation that has begun in myself as I continue to shed my skin and grow into my new role, my new world, where I will give up my power in search of influence.
For teachers, grades represent power, incredible power, which, as I often point out, goes unchecked as each decides independently how that power will affect the lives of kids in his/her classroom. And while I’d like to say that all teachers exercise that power with great caution, I cannot, for I know, not only from my experiences as a student but also as a teacher, that teachers abuse that power. I have abused that power. I am not suggesting that our school houses are full of abusive dictators on power trips. I am suggesting that teachers are human, and as such, we are vulnerable to the power of power, and sometimes, even the best of us, unwittingly use our power in ways that we shouldn’t.
Systemically, the power of grades, has created a culture in education where teaching and learning are driven by grades, which are held in front of and over kids to force both academic and behavioral compliance, and this has lead to what we now hail as institutional and conventional wisdom in the world of education. And that is why I think both kids and adults react as they do to my plan, suggesting that kids will do nothing, that I will fail for there is now no reason for them to comply. And in a realm of power, they are not wrong. I will no longer hold the power of grades. But that is exactly what I am in search of–a land where learning and commitment to oneself, not grades and compliance to another, is the norm. I seek the realm of influence, where I no longer hold the power, for I will give it to those who should–who must–hold it anyway, my kids.
Happy Wednesday, all. Empower someone today.