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[Em]Power: Morning Minutes, May 4, 2016



Power

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.

Give Power

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.

superman



3 Replies to “[Em]Power: Morning Minutes, May 4, 2016”

  • Grades are just letters. I get that, but behind them is work and dedication. Giving everyone an ”A” is like taking these two aspects away. The truth is, we are high school students. We only work for those who have something to give back to us. You can’t expect us to work for you when we already have our reward. I understand that you want to try to make learning fun but you’re taking away responsibility and the edge to learn. What makes your students want to take an effort to listen or carry out assigned tasks ? How does this prepare us for a harder future?

  • I think that this is something that you are very passionate about so I say, “Go for it!” I think that there may be that possibility that some students will not do their homework and they will not learn anything because the only thing that drives them is that “A”. However, I believe those students will learn a very important lesson. They will learn that sometimes they need to take responsibility for themselves. If someone gives them something to do, but its a choice, they need to learn that they should still do it because it will only help them. I think that this is a brilliant idea. I hope that it all goes well. I wish you luck, especially with the students that rebel and refuse to do anything. They will learn.

  • Its true, as you say, that “teaching and learning are driven by grades, which are held in front of and over kids to force both academic and behavioral compliance”. However, if you are going to remove the “power of grades”, that present driving force will be gone, therefore creating a need for another force in replacement; the force of education and love for learning. How will you instill that force in your students who have been conditioned to care only about the “A”? I’d love to hear ideas from you, and I wish you the best on your academic revolution.

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