Student Centered in an OTES World

The door opens into a classroom with students, sitting in circles, leaning towards each other. The volume swells as the discussion gets heated. Hands wave, fingers tap on keyboards and on paperback novels to prove points. But where is the teacher?

The principal frowns. He’s coming to evaluate her teaching, knowing that only 50% of her evaluation, and the RIFF that might follow a bad one, is based on her teaching. The other 50% is based on student growth measures, which right now means a single test score. Then he smiles. There she is, crouched down next to a group of students, observing the magic of student collaboration.

Last night, I took part in a #flipclass discussion on Twitter. Just as a shout out to all my twitter peeps, this discussion takes place every Monday night, EST, from 8-9. I’ve only participated in two chats so far, but I always walk away with some deep insights into how flipping looks from around the country.

And then they asked the question: Q6 How do you help Ss take responsibility for their learning? What can counteract the “playing school” and #PointProstitution?

If you read my previous post, I really want my teaching this year to be all about teaching them how to learn how to learn and to learn from each other. But this question strikes deep into the heart of what I obsess about in the middle of the night–what if they don’t show student growth on the test? The test that I helped to write, the one that focuses on questions coming from a set curriculum. The one that could make or break my continuing teaching career.  The one that cares very little about student responsibility for learning and very much about teaching “what is expected.”

The other answer posts start to flow–asynchronous learning, mastery learning, student choice, and I think, do you be true to your beliefs, or do you “teach to the test” to save your job?

The answer is that I am committed to doing what is best for students–to scaffold them when they struggle, to present them with new ways of looking at the world, to support them in their journey as life long learners, to challenge them to always prove their points with evidence.  This means that I cannot teach to the test. I can only do what is best for them, every day, and let the test score fall where it may.

I pray it is enough.

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