As a teacher, what am I entitled to?
Am I entitled to inherent respect from my students? Silence when I demand it? Uncompromising focus of the tasks I deem appropriate?
Am I entitled to students who are never late? Absent?
Am I entitled to students who want to learn? Love to learn?
Am I entitled to students who leave their dramas at home? Have no dramas at home? Recognize when dramas are real or perceived?
Am I entitled to a cell phone free classroom? Facebook-free computer lab? Social media free interaction?
Am I entitled to laugh every day? A work environment free of politics? A work where your value is fairly acknowledged?
Am I entitled to a quiet space to do my work when not directly working with students? Access to the technology I need?
Am I entitled to a succinct, clear understanding of what my responsibilities as a teacher are? A set of protocols of which I must adhere?
Am I entitled to my own classroom? A teacher’s desk?
Am I entitled to time? Space?
Am I entitled to freedom to make mistakes? Freedom to try something new?
Am I entitled to say no to change? Maintain the status quo? Be jaded, cynical?
Am I entitled to teach how I have been teaching for the past 5 years? 10 years? 20 years? 30 years?
Am I entitled to sick days? Personal days? Family care days?
Am I entitled to stability? Job security?
Am I entitled to fair compensation for my effort? My success? A pension? Recognition of my aptitude?
Am I entitled to feedback? To offer professional feedback? To speak for myself?
It seems to me there are many questions about entitlement that are being asked explicitly and implicitly in education right now. There is an expectation of entitlement that is creeping into the daily rhetoric of educators.
The problem with entitlement is we’ll never receive what we are “entitled”. The problem with entitlement is that we’ll never be happy.
These questions can be asked from different perspectives as well. Parents, administrators, governments, students all have a feeling of entitlement.
So, who is entitled?
It is so easy. You know the posture, you are either “with us” or “against us”. “This” or “that”. “Students” or “Teachers”. “Unions” or “Management”
But, that doesn’t work very often. In fact, if anything, that usually disables any forward momentum. It creates an environment of exclusion. It creates isolated ideas.
This happens to the best of us. We get caught in our frame of thinking that we instinctually place anyone who is opposed in an “or” position.
But maybe it is time for us to make the change.
Maybe it is time for us to re-think everything, starting with the word in the middle.
Maybe it doesn’t have to be one way or the other.
Have we, as an education system, as an education reform/revolution movement, spent enough time think with an “AND” mentality?
Have we, as teachers and students and administrators, tried hard enough working with an “AND” mentality?
I hear/read so much about education that frames things as an either/or. Not near enough, do I hear/read about education with a both/and.
What does that look like? How does that change things?
How do we get there?
How can I start developing that frame of reference?
I don’t know where these questions will take me. The following blog post struck a chord with me. Read the inspiration. http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/2011/08/23/a-ceo-of-campbells-explains-the-power-of-and/
I had a student come up to me the other afternoon, after class, and earnestly ask me, “Should I just give up?”
He was talking about the course we were embroiled in. He was talking about whether or not he had enough time to get the credit.
This isn’t the first time. In fact, this happens so often with our struggling students. At some point in time, this year or last, they’ve been told, “Maybe it’s time to give up.” They’ve been made to believe there comes a time in school when their best isn’t good enough. The pile of zeroes they’ve gotten themselves is too tall to climb. And I think, man, what a shame.
Despite my explicitly motivating words, “You can do it!”, the student walked away unsure whether the time had come to call it a day.
I addressed many of the same issues at the end of last semester in a post I wrote, Slogging It Out.
Yet here we are with students, who need more time to demonstrate the required outcomes, being told, implicitly as well as explicitly, you’ve run out of time. You might as well give up.
Separate, yet connected, I’ve been thinking alot about mastery. My own mastery and my relentless pursuit of learning new things, which I often abandon after a stretch.
I can strum a guitar, play a few riffs, sing a few campfire songs. But I haven’t mastered it. I don’t prioritize the time to really master it. So, should I stop seeking mastery?
My math skills are weak. Not “can’t give you change” weak, but definitely there are no sine laws in my future. There wasn’t real calculus in my past either. (This is an assumption that the sine law is connected to calculus, which I vaguely remember). I scraped through my senior level Math classes when I was in high school. My brain can’t figure the figures. Why bother learning them? The amount of time that is needed to build that base knowledge alone.
At what point, do I not have enough time to learn something?
After trying something, struggling in the pocket of learning, at some point, is it alright to quit learning? I don’t mean learning completely, just that little aspect of life you are trying to master?
Is this what this student is struggling with?
I’m wrestling with the ideas that I live a passion of learning, yet, I find myself hitting the wall of learning in various parts of life because they are too hard, too onerous, or just too much time. I find myself quitting paths of learning all the time.
The student and I are struggling with the idea of quitting. No doubt about it, they are different pursuits. His for a course, a credit he must earn in an allotted time frame. Mine for a lack of passion, clarity, time, support, whatever. Yet, we both find ourselves asking the same question:
Is it time to give up?
I know I’m a little all over here. Thanks for following and reading. Comments / Responses / Answers are very welcome.
I am quite clearly not a master of anything yet, although I continue to pursue mastery.
Today’s Challenge: Go back to something I’ve quit learning and try again.
Tonight, I will pick up the guitar or maybe, just maybe, do a little trigonometry.
Yesterday, a colleague I respect, took me to task on my lack of sharing in my department and my lack of discussion I’ve engaged in about the course I’m teaching, the Futures Forum Project. He challenged my notion of “who owns the course?”
It was great feedback. Pretty accurate and deserved.
So I reflected.
He is right. I probably share more online then I do in the department office. Why is that? Great question. There are probably many factors. Even online, I talk little about the day to day operation and more about the larger philosophical implications of my choices.
I’d like to say it is because I’m in the experimental phase. I don’t really know what works yet. I see reaction, but it takes time for me to see results, connect with students, get their feedback. And while I thought about this idea more, it hit upon the other question.
Who owns the course?
Does the department? A little more complicated as it is a merged credit including three departments.
Is it the school?
Is it the school board? It is a board wide initiative.
And then it hit me.
Part of my reluctance to share, part of my hesitation to talk day to day, is because I don’t own it.
The students do.
I have made a major change in philosophy to try to truly give power and control to the students as a body, but also as individuals.
It’s not something I can share easily. It is a complete pedagogical shift of philosophy.
So, in all this, I’m still reflecting on what I can share. I agree with his feedback, but I’m not sure the next step.
A thought provoking video that asks many questions we don’t have the answers to and we are seemingly nowhere near answering.
It is these questions that we must keep asking of ourselves, colleagues, administrators, trustees, parents and students. It is not just one of our problems, changes, attitudes and understandings, it is our collective vision of our role in society that must be questioned.
From attendance, standards, measurement, assessment, schedule, pedagogy, we should formulate an ethic of critical questioning. This video is a start.
Do I have to? How many times do our students jump through hoops to prove their worth? How many times
Students are begging for a re-thinking of education. They don’t want to be preached to, they don’t want to be told what to know. You aren’t the bearer of all knowledge, Google can do it quicker. They don’t want you to lecture them, to fabricate life for them. They want to learn authentically.
They want to be helped. No doubt about it. They want to be taught. Just not like it always has been. They want to be pushed into new directions, new ways of thinking. Content bores them. Inquiry, true inquiry engages them.
It is our job to listen to the words of our students. It is our job to listen to what they say silently with their behaviour.
A student told me today, “There are teachers who don’t allow students to write on the board.” We’d miss out on the insight these doodles offer.
I say, let’s get messy. Let’s learn. You can’t really have one without the other.
Here are some questions I think we need to consider as we begin framing our lives for the 21st century. Some questions have been absconded, re-worded, or modified from various blogs I’ve read.
Attention: How do we need to change our concepts and practices of attention for a new era?
Participation: How do we encourage meaningful interaction and participation in a digital age? How do we transition our students from consumers of media to contributors, creators and participants?
Collaboration: How do we rework our ideas of possession of ideas and the creation of projects? How can we use the power of connection to push our ideas forward and to incorporate the strengths of the many?
Community awareness: How can we both thrive as creative individuals and understand our place within our community or network? How
Civic Duty: What is our responsibility to the world, now that we know so much more and we have access to more tools for change?
Storytelling: How do narrative elements shape the information we wish to convey, helping it to have force in a world of competing information?
Game Literacy: AS video games have overtaken television and movies as most consumed media, how does that change our students’ ideas of reality? How does it modify our understanding of student feedback?
Critical Thinking: How do we learn to be critical of what we consume, without a moderator? How do students separate the frivolous information with the necessary?
Digital Divide: How do basic aspects of economics and culture dictate not only who participates in the digital age but how they participate?
Ethics: What are the new moral imperatives of our interconnected age? How do we establish true character in our students when anonimity is created and celebrated online?
Assessment: What are the best, most fluid, most adaptive and helpful ways to measure progress and productivity as a part of a productive process that also requires innovation and creativity? How do we make learning the real motive for our students, parents and teachers, not just grades?
Sustainability: How do we protect the environment in a plugged-in era? How will new tools make it easier to go paperless, carbon-neutral or at the very least environmental conscious?
Learning, Unlearning, and Relearning: How do we teach student to learn something, identify the errors, unlearn what they’ve learn and relearn the process?
This list will surely continue to grow…
Style switcher only on this demo version. Theme styles can be changed from Options page.