A calling ...

"We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims."

"Make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone."

- Buckminster Fuller

Monday, February 15, 2010

10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 Liftoff

Education is a brutal field.  For anyone unfamiliar with the culture of education, the learning curve can be especially brutal!  Despite a plethora of educational and professional standards, the goals of education are subject to rancorous debate.

Do we want to promote higher order thinking, or do we want students who can produce answers on standardized tests?  Anyone in educational will say, "what a dumb question, of course our goal is to promote higher order thinking."

Unfortunately, higher order thinking skills take time to develop and are subject to developmental factors.  First, the new teacher must confront the issue of learner readiness.  If a teacher questions learner readiness, does that teacher implicitly question how students who lack basic skills have been promoted from lower grades?

From the onset, the new teacher must confront a treacherous issue: How do we assess learner readiness?  Obviously, there are methods more sophisticated than the grimace test or the deer in the headlights look, but the matter of assessments isn't as obvious as some people might like it to be.

Do we base our assessments of learner readiness on standardized tests, or would a rubric for evaluating a portfolio of student work be more effective?  Which benchmarks will we use?  How much data is needed?  How frequently are we required to collect data?  How are we required to communicate the data?  These questions lead to my central questions. What will we do with the data?  What framework will we use? How will the learning look, sound, and feel?

I've been scrutinizing the work of two master teachers, Jan Richardson in Guided Reading, and John A. Van De Walle in Math.  My goal is to study, reflect, and converse with the minds of these two educational masters, in order to make their instructional strategies my own.  Master teachers anticipate readiness issues.  Master teachers have strategies for teaching developmentally.  These are my primary goals.

Today, I read an article about Ted Leonsis, a billionaire who owns the red hot Washington Capitals hockey team.  Leonsis, a man I greatly admire for his likeability and foresight, spoke about the critical importance of building networks.  Building networks has been extremely difficult to do.  In blogging, my main goals are to reach out, develop and solidify relationships, refine my thinking, reflect on instructional methods, and share experiences.  If what I write is sufficiently entertaining and informative, hopefully this blog will take on a life of its own, along with the bread and butter issue of my employment.