Saturday, March 19, 2016
ARE TEACHERS AT OUR BEST WHEN WE FORGET THE CURRICULUM?
I got this on Facebook yesterday from the amazing Beth Dimino. It is from elementary-teacher.com but it kind of fits for high school teachers too.
As a high school social studies teacher, sometimes I like a great deal of structure and a detailed plan but when the class heads off on a tangent, we often head to places I didn't think were possible. Some of my best teaching experiences happened when kids ended up talking about something completely different from what was in the lesson plan.
I'm often criticized by my friend Norm Scott for writing too much about union issues and not enough about teaching. He is of course right as I am known to separate the two in my head and this blog mostly concerns the union stuff with an emphasis on standing up for teachers.
ICE and MORE have stressed repeatedly that our working conditions are the learning conditions for the students. Are we better teachers when we kind of have an idea and go with it or should we have detailed plans that we follow to the letter? In my early days we were encouraged to take chances but one of the consequences of fourteen years of the Bloomberg-Klein-Black-Walcott, de Blasio-Farina regimes is that many teachers are compelled to watch their backs and can't take those chances that many of us took for granted back in the nineties.
In my mind if we are to recover our profession, teacher autonomy is so necessary to regain. I don't mean we should do anything and everything we want and ditch curriculum and structure but we need to be able to take risks in the classroom and not worry about some administrator playing gotcha every two minutes. Sorry Norm, I couldn't help but bring it back to union rights.