April 24, 2014

What I'm Thinking About Today

Today, students took a big science test over cells and classification. I know this unit was difficult for them because it included a lot of new concepts and vocabulary, but as I graded the tests for two classes, I was lamenting their scores.

This lead to a conversation with the classroom teacher about the idea that you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink.

And the more we talked, the more I felt her frustration with the new teacher evaluation system, which starts next year. At this point, student scores will be a direct reflection of teacher success.

I know this post isn't bringing to light anything new, but I really want someone to give me a good reason as to why this is the solution to our education crisis in America.

Since I started working in education, I've been taught to be a facilitator of learning. Therefore, it is my job to provide the tools necessary and the encouragement needed for students to become lifelong learners.

This is great, in theory, but what are teachers supposed to do when students lack the initiative to take any ownership of their learning? We spent 3 DAYS making Cell City, which is supposed to be a metaphor for how each organelle operates within a cell. The day the submitted this project, they took a quick pop quiz to check their understanding of the functions of each organelle.

We had a good number of students who performed better on the PRETEST than this pop quiz.

We gave them notes. We reviewed the notes. We offered an extension activity for them to further grasp this information.

What else are we supposed to do?

I genuinely wish I had the answer.

I can't follow them all home to make sure they study. I can't even make them do their homework! You can't force someone to care about something they deem unimportant.

I think some of our students believe they can learn through osmosis. Like the information is just going to seep into their brains by being in the classroom... even when they're not paying attention.

This is the reality of education. Every teacher knows this.

So why don't our policymakers?


  1. Because the policymakers have never stepped foot in a classroom. Because they've never seen the struggles these children have when they walk out our door each night. They have no clue. So frustrating!
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

  2. Agree with you completely. I think some of our awesome technology is huting the younger kids too, I don't mean playing video games. I mean apps in which they do not have to read a single thing to learn how to use it. They just press buttons and figure it out. Add in option where they can speak and get an answer. I find they
    don't read instructions or questions and when things get tricky and the answer isn't given to them they tend to give up. Teachers are being more creative, more supportive, and bending over backwards to lead them, yet struggling to get them through. Educators are not the problem. Most people outside of education don't realize how hard we work and how much we have stacked against us!

  3. I have been saying for years that before politicians get to sit on the Education Committee, much less vote on a bill having to do with education, they should have to shadow a real teacher, in a real classroom, in an urban school. And not for just a day, oh no! One week before school starts, the first week of school, the week of parent conferences, a week while the students are working on a project, a week of state testing, and the entire month after the testing! Then, they might have an inkling of what it is like.