…it’s okay to push aside certain subjects to only focus on those that are tested on in school. This is what kills the joy of learning and teaching. There is more to life than just a test. Students deserve to have a well-rounded education in all subject areas, not just those that have end of the year tests attached to them. The untested subjects have just as much to offer as the tested ones, sometimes even more so. When teachers are told to stop teaching one or more untested subjects to focus only on the tested ones (and yes this happens), it is truly disheartening for education.
We pretend we don’t have time for hands-on inquiry science. It’s considered fun, and there’s no time for fun when we are trying to get students ready for a test that can decide their fate from one grade to the next. Again, students need a well-rounded education. Science is a subject that allows students to apply what they’ve learned in other subjects (reading and math skills), teaches them to learn from mistakes or incorrect hypotheses, and encourages perseverance when things don’t go as planned. I’ve yet to see any high stakes test that does all that.
We pretend there’s not much we can do to get rid of high stakes testing, but there is. We need to get creative and think outside of the box. It’s very unlikely we will be able to convince those in power that we should just trash what we have. Especially since it’s a money maker for the testing companies. They’ve created this game, so let’s play it…and adjust the rules in our favor. We need to give testing companies better ideas they can sell that will benefit students and teachers. Portfolios that show various forms of student work and growth, projects that students can work on throughout the year and present, pretests and posttests that show student growth during the school year rather than a one time test that just shows the students work for that subject on that given day (these are just examples, not saying any of them are winners).
We pretend if we follow rules set by others things will eventually change on their own…WRONG! We have to speak up. There are many of us in this profession, and united we are a force to be reckoned with. There are also so many modes of communication available to us, it’s just not acceptable to think we don’t have a voice in matters that are education related. Joining education groups online may not seem like much, but it is a way to get information out, and encourage others to make their voices heard by the powers that be. Blogging is also another way to put your message and ideas out there (at the very least, it can be used as a journal to rant and rave to your heart’s content).
We pretend, as teachers, that there’s not much we can do to change education, again WRONG! We are more powerful than we think we are. However, grumbling in the lounge is not going to advance us to where education should be headed. There are many ways to make ourselves a source of change. Starting in our own classrooms, we can find ways to make improvements for our students. Reaching out to other teachers (in our buildings, districts, and even social media), attending workshops, finding resources to use are ways we can make a difference in our teaching, and improve education. We can then take what we learn and share it with others. It’s scary for a lot of us, but we, as teachers, have more to share than we think. It just becomes automatic to us, and we don’t think it’s very special, or cutting edge. Be willing to share some of your ideas through workshops, either in your building (it’s okay, and even smart, to start small) or within your district.