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Sunday, April 26, 2015

5 Things We Need to Quit Pretending

Last week @DavidJHuber challenged me to create a list of 5 things we need to quit pretending. I was intrigued about what I would write about and needed to give it some thought.  This weekend, after traveling to Buffalo and having 6+ hours of podcast listening, I decided what my 5 would be.

We need to stop pretending:
1. We are meeting our students' needs.  We do a really good job of giving lip service to doing this.  We know the buzzwords, we know what to say if our administrators ask, but are we really doing all we can do? I don't think so.  Do we have a mix on online and face to face classes? Do we offer staggered start times for those teenagers that just don't function at 7:30AM?  Do we allow for assignment submission beyond our 40 minutes?  Do we extend the learning of our classroom beyond 40 minutes? Do we ask questions that tap into the passions of our students?  Do we know our student's passions??  Do we allow for both paper and virutal submissions?  Do we encourage BYOD? Do we offer platform choice?  Do we give projects that require true collaboration?  Do we offer recipes or projects?  Are we offering MOOCs or online courses that are outside what we can teach in our classrooms (think Russian, Arabic, coding, etc) I could keep going, but you get the drift!

2. We are tapping into #stuvoice. Have we asked our students to reflect on their learning in our class, encouraged them to share with us and then actually used that reflection to make meaningful change in our classroom?  Most teachers plan out class and lessons never giving one second to student voice and then wonder why there is push back or why they are constantly acting up and then off task.  Not only will asking for feedback from students give them a sense of empowerment, but it will help them invest more in class.  The trick is after you ask for it, you have to USE the feedback!

3. We walk the walk. If you are reading this, you are a connected educator, but according to one of the #edtechchat podcasts I listened to this weekend, there are over 7 million educators in this country and only about 400,000 of them are connected.  Does it mean you aren't learning if you aren't connected? No, but you are severely limiting your learning if you are not connected.  Are you modeling your learning for your students?  Are you taking what you learn back to class the next day?  Are you truly the life long learner that we are, in theory, supposed to be encouraging our students to be?

4. We are engaged students. You've been there.  Many are still there.  Rolling eyes at meetings, not doing what is asked of them, submitting paperwork and information past the deadline.  There might be nothing that irks me more than a teacher exhibiting behavior that they would never accept from their students.  Now, this might be a product of the type of meetings we are attending, but we are professionals.  We need to remember that if we want to be treated like professionals, we must act like one.

5. We are meeting the needs of our teachers.  Are we offering organic PD that stems from teacher passion?  Are we encouraging and providing an environment where self-directed PD is valued?  Are we devoting time to all skill levels?  Are we providing PD that is meaningful and differentiated?  Are we using sit and get to learn how differentiated, engaging instruction needs to be how we reach the students?  Are we encouraging risk taking and then allowing the teachers to model that for the students?  Are we encouraging outside the box thinking?  Are we excited for teachers of all skill levels when they master a new skill, add a new tool that moves them up the SAMR model?

I'm not trying to inply that we are failing all of our students and all of our teachers, but I feel like if there's more that we can be doing to reach more students and teachers, then we NEED to do that!

I challenge:


  1. I love this post and I'm going to take the challenge too... Thanks for putting this out there.

  2. Awesome post, Rachel! Intimidating yet inspiring...

  3. Thank you! I hope that it spawns much critical thinking and discussion!

  4. Hey this is fantastic. Thanks to the folks who passed this on to me. You make some points that have been irking me for quite a while now. It's time to stop pretending. Thank you.

  5. Only if they state or the government understood this because school is supposed to be the place for learning stuff and not how to pass the next test. If they did realize and not just realize it they would do something that would benefit everyone and do it based on research and what works best for both teachers and students. But nothing we think is ever taken into account and I hope this makes a difference.

  6. Thank you for commenting Hiram! You made some valid points regarding the state and mandates they have for us.

  7. #4 is dead on. Time to call it like it is!

    Thanks for participating, Rachel!

  8. #4 is dead on. Time to call it like it is!

    Thanks for participating, Rachel!

  9. Thank you. I am hoping that we can use this as a time to turn the corner and begin anew. We need to jump into learning like we did when we were younger.