After years of having a consistent online presence, I’m continuing to come to terms with my lack of blogging and other writing/sharing in the school year just past. But I think I can say that my muted voice is in part the result of a ever-increasing focus on the all-important high stakes tests, and the strict curriculum controls and direct-instruction mandates that have grown up around the national “accountability” movement.
Every state requires high school students to take a US History survey course. For the makers of the SAT Subject Test, every event, every President, every person of note is of equal importance and equally likely to show up on the examination. If I were a college admissions director I would want an assessment that sought to tease out a young person’s sense of what it means to be an engaged citizen, not how many facts they know about President James Garfield.
Students sit in the test-taking room, with full access to computers and wireless connections. As they work on national exams, they can be seen accessing the internet from time to time. Are the results from this testing going to be corrupted because these test-takers are not isolated from global information resources? Cheating — or high-tech cheating, as it is called today — what is that exactly? And is it really a problem? Do our old-school definitions of cheating need rethinking?
My teaching mission is simple yet absolutely necessary to helping my students prepare for their futures. I began this school year with a list of questions that could help me envision, plan, reflect and maintain focus on where my students and I needed to be when the last bell rings in late May. Out of my personal questioning and reflection came what would be the essential question for my 11th grade social studies students during our time together: “What does it mean to be a citizen nationally, globally and digitally?”
Do not tell me
You do not have time.
You cannot complete the assignment
Or come to training
Or take a course
Or read a blog
Or expand your own learning
What can we do, as administrators, to promote teacher learning on a daily basis? How can we structure our organizations to allow for collaboration and communication among peers, embed opportunities for both face-to-face and online learning, help our teachers stay informed and familiar with current research and practices (in content, pedagogy, and technology), model for them that we ourselves are growing professionally, and help the organization as a whole realize that complacency must be eradicated?