Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Shifting Thinking for Modern Learners

After four years of teaching every tested social studies subject, four years writing curriculum for all three subjects at the district level, and two years as an academic leader (department chair) on district and campus academic leadership teams, I can honestly say that I am informed about "kids these days" and what works versus what doesn't. The following is a series of tweets in response to some of the questions I've heard floating around as well as the uninformed commentary I've read on the Internet. Notice that the biggest cheerleaders of these tweets are my students.

This is an interpretation of the law [SB 2033 (1)].

It is our responsibility as educators to prepare students for life beyond secondary education. We need to consider the fact that students can be prepared for situations beyond the classroom without mimicking the exact conditions. Many of these kids are not ready to be adults (imagine that). Healthy learning environments enable students to learn with expectations that take into consideration social, emotional, and cognitive development. Unfortunately, only about a third of all teenagers are ready to act like adults consistently. All of them, however, are ready for situations that enable them to decided what kind of adult they want to be.  

Students can still experience a work habits failure without penalties to their grade. In fact, the lesson they can learn through behavioral penalties is more likely to contribute to a life of learning than an economy that uses grades as currency.

Setting up the opportunity for students to experience success is more critical than instilling guilt and a sense of hopelessness. This isn't self esteem we are talking about. It's optimism grounded in experience.

How many teachers who take points off for late work, add points when it's early? Not that this practice is condoned, but it makes you wonder about how fair subtracting is in the first place. As an academic leader, should I report to the administrators every time a teacher misses a meeting, fails to bring acceptable work to the table, or just doesn't do the job? This is why I started doing department meetings with Moodle in a computer lab. Why treat the teachers differently than the students? I support teachers with deficiencies, not penalize them.