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Shaky Legs: Morning Minutes, May 24, 2016

Think about it…

LSAT, MCAT’s, Praxis exams for teachers in the United States, bar exams for lawyers, CPA exams for accountants, driver’s license tests, auto mechanic’s certification tests, pilot’s license exams are all allowed to be taken over and over again for FULL CREDIT. High stakes, fully reflective of the larger responsible world the kids will one day enter.

How pompous is it for the classroom teacher to say, “This quiz…this paper…this test…this homework is so indicative of the larger world of responsibility that I’m trying to teach you, and so high stakes, that it can’t possibly be redone.”

You don’t have a pedagogical leg to stand on.

–Rick Wormelli

Yesterday the kids took their sentence final, a comprehensive exam over our work with sentences this year, targeting such things as participial phrases, adjective clauses, comma splices, etc. In short, it was not an easy test. And while I am generally happy with the kids’ performances (roughly a B average in all four classes), there will be a number of kids who will want an opportunity to retake it. Fortunately, in 219, a realm of possibility, that is always an option. Of course, sadly, this is neither an option nor appreciated in some of my colleagues’ classrooms. For they, believe–earnestly it seems–that my doing this for kids is ruining their chances for success in the real world because I am not teaching them the importance of responsibility. Because, as we all know, there are no second chances, no do-over’s in the real world. BS.

There are, as Mr. Wormelli points out above, plenty of second chances in the real world–yes, even in high stakes arenas. I have always been wary of teachers who threaten kids with the real world. I was wary as a student, and I am most certainly wary as a teacher. The world is real enough for our kiddos right now. Let it be real. Don’t brandish the future as a threat for the present. Challenge kids. Support kids. Let them grow. Help them grow. Don’t cause them to recoil in fear of a future that you present to be more scary than real. That is not to say that our kids won’t face challenges later. Of course they will. That’s why they are with us, so we can help them face those challenges by supporting and preparing them in the present of their very real worlds.  Begin by letting them redo and retake. Quit mistaking your rigidity for responsibility. Be flexible. You’ll find it is easier to stand aboard the learning ship once you find your legs.

Happy Tuesday, all. Sorry for the rant. Peddlers of impossibility rankle me.


4 Replies to “Shaky Legs: Morning Minutes, May 24, 2016”

  • I totally agree. In school, we are taught that the real world is this far off, mysterious place where mistakes aren’t allowed. I know that’s not true, but that’s what most teachers lead us to believe. So when a teacher says that they accept retakes, corrections, or extra credit, it comes as a huge suprise to their students. The truth of the matter is, in the real world, second chances are everywhere. So why is school trying to prepare us for the real world incorrectly? Why is there such a disconnect between school and the real world?

    • Amarise,

      THAT is the question. We are getting somewhere now. I think part of the answer lies in the fact that teacher’s are given great autonomy in their classrooms -even when and after it has been proven-through research and other avenues- that the way we are doing “it” is ineffective and sometimes even damaging to kids. There are too few checks and balances for honest and meaningful school work interactions between teachers and students, in my opinion. There is a gaping and obvious disconnect between what we are teaching kids and the actual skills they will need to “make it” out in the world.
      I have enjoyed reading your responses to my husband’s blog! Thanks for helping me to be a more reflective, better teacher kiddo! ❤️

      • I’m glad I can be of help. Thank you for your input Mrs. Syrie! I appreciate you taking the time to answer my question. I agree with you. CHS is my 8th school and no matter where I go to school, I see the things you describe. We need to change the way people view education. In today’s world, most people are not excited to go to school because they view what they are learning as worthless. If we can change the way we teach in our schools, I believe that we will see grades go up, attendance improve, and people’s opinion of the public school system improve. But that will not happen until we bridge the gap between the real world and our schools. So that’s why I post on here. To maybe be able to help your husband change the world. I believe that he can do it, and I’m excited to see what happens.

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