I was thinking the other day about HOW I feel about everything that is happening, or not happening, in our school systems. There is far too much to talk about it all. It is suggested that children can start falling behind in school in early grades, even as early as kindergarten. Spending more time in the classroom than I ever have before, I am starting to develop my own teaching philosophy.
In between all the assignments to do and practicum hours to complete and assessments to give, you start to build opinions. Opinions on things you see, hear or read about. Last semester, I was actually able to help a child. I observed his behavior, with no known diagnosis, and came up with my own ideas and ways to help the child. I saw a behavior, created an intervention to “fix” the behavior and implemented the intervention. It worked and it was the first time I felt like “I can do this!” This was the intervention chart. His behaviors decreased immensely and I was so proud of myself…and him, of course.After that experience, I truly started to believe in certain philosophies and I started to create my own. However, now I am in a whole other ballgame. Our school system recently adopted a new curriculum for our children. There are some things I believe in but there are some things I don’t. And now, I am starting to wonder how I can create harmony between my beliefs and strict standards.
When I think about my experience in elementary school, it wasn’t all that great. My parents were trying to do the best for me and to give me a good education. Who knew that Catholic schools weren’t always the “best” schools. But I don’t regret any memory I have. I embrace it because it made me who I am and I truly believe it has helped define my teaching philosophy.
Why are students treated like little soldiers? Being quiet in the halls, hands behind their back, using a level 1 or 0 voice, making sure they ask before getting a tissue or a drink of water, and beating math facts into their heads. Are these appropriate expectations? Are we taking away from their childhood by not allowing them to act like children when they’re in school? Or is this necessary to have a productive class? How could we handle this in a different manner? Unfortunately, I don’t have the answers to these questions. Sometimes the answer cannot come from a single person.
The debate about the new curriculum that we have adopted is very controversial. One side says that the standards are not developmentally appropriate and we are dooming our kids to fail. And the other side says standards are necessary, we need to close the achievement gaps and if we don’t close these achievement gaps…we are dooming our kids to fail. Wait…what? Yes. Even I am confused on where I stand there. All I want is the best for my future students. Isn’t that what everyone wants? Is there an option for that? I’m sometimes afraid that money and politics take too much part in our education system. Do these new standards not support what we already know of how children learn?
Are we doomed to fail our children if they are pushed to a level they aren’t ready for? OR will that encourage them to persevere. What about children with learning disabilities? IEPs? Special education services? What does it mean for them?
I will soon find out. Or maybe I wont. Maybe this will be an ongoing quest for me. Maybe this heated debate will continue throughout my career. If it isn’t this debate, there surely will be a different one.
What we can agree on is that we want our children to succeed. And I am going to try my very VERY best to make that happen.