Though teachers are working harder than ever,
and we have more standards and testing than ever, and our curriculum is more aligned than ever,
what we’re doing isn’t working.
It’s working for some of our kids; it’s probably working for your kids if you are reading a blog about education. But, it isn’t working for ALL of our kids.
It’s not just my opinion; over 21 studies show virtually the same thing.
- Less than half of our students feel positively about their college and career readiness. YouthTruth Student Survey 2015
- Just under half of our kiddos report feeling engaged in school, and a fifth are actively disengaged. Gallup Student Poll 2016
- Student engagement drops yearly from 5th grade to 11th grade, only rising slightly when seniors see the light at the end of the tunnel. Gallup Student Poll 2015
So, what can we do for the kids not represented by the blue bars, for the ones who aren’t engaged?
That’s why we innovate.
Mistakes are not really something I have embraced. In first grade, Mrs. Arnold told me that she was going to take my eraser away from me if I didn’t quit using it so much.
For most of my time in the classroom, I did my best to keep my students from making mistakes. I thought it was my job to prevent kiddos from messing up. Maybe that was a mistake. . .
As I’ve grown as a teacher, I’ve grown into the idea that it really is good to let learners fail, to have them do the hard work, to allow them to learn from the struggle. Though I grew up with a fixed mindset, I’ve been working to have more of a growth mindset.
But Jo Boaler (@joboaler) moved me a little further this week in #IMMOOC Season 3, Episode 1. She explained that mistakes cause our brains to spark and grow. Really!?! That was a big shock. How can that be? Well, I’ll spare you the science, but it has something to do with firing synapses. Read more here.
So, instead of creating learning experiences where kiddos don’t have to make mistakes, we should be designing learning experiences that encourage mistakes.
I get it; that means more project and problem-based learning, more inquiry, more real-world problem solving. But, does it mean no more “gradual release;” no more “I do, we do, you do”?
What do you think?
Scrapbooking . . . I just never really go into it. Well, I do have books of scrapbook paper in my closet and an empty scrapbook. I wanted to be a scrapbooker, but it was just too much. It took way too much time. I just couldn’t take time to get the supplies out and get it out.
In my last post, New and Improved, I reflected on how we know something is really innovative. I said that we have to have a body of evidence to support that something is better. The evidence can’t be a once at the end of the year state test. That doesn’t tell us enough.
Johnna Weller (@johnnaweller) of Discovery Education says we should look at evidence like we look at a scrapbook of our kids’ lives. We don’t want just one glossy 8×10 school picture. That doesn’t tell the whole story. It tells part of the story, but not enough. It’s better than nothing, but if that one picture is all we have, it is unfortunate. To really see how our kiddos have grown, we want to see pictures from the first day of school, pictures from sporting events, pictures for birthdays .
But, again, paper scrapbooking has always been too much trouble for me. I would much rather go digital, put all the pics in an online album or make a movie. My favorite movies, though are the ones my kids made themselves, the collages they post to Instagram. Those tell me even more than what I made. Those give me the best picture of how they have grown.
So, how do I know that something is new and better, that something is good for my learners? What if I asked them? What if the learners kept their own “scrapbook” of their growth? What if they were the innovators who determine if something is new and improved?
For the next several weeks, I’ll be participating in The Innovator’s Mindset MOOC. We’ll be reading the book, connecting with others, and I will be posting reflections here. I’ve tried blogs and failed before. My hope is that this will help me develop a habit of posting reflections regularly. Would you keep me accountable?
Will you join me on the journey?
Here’s how to get started.
This first week, we’re focusing on the Introduction to the book. Watch the YouTube with Dave Burgess and see this week’s challenges here.