I bemoaned the Nothing With Joy trajectory operating within our educational system for many long years. The increased emphasis on testing and blatant disregard for providing developmentally appropriate instruction for children left teachers, students and parents feeling exhausted and abused.
Then something began to shift. It seems folks can only be pushed so far before individual grumblings pull together into a collective, "Hell, No!" Slowly, a steady revolt formed to combat the twisted, limited understanding of the Common Core. Positive changes are happening. Joy is starting to resurface.
One indication of the change is that the teacher's input is, once again, deemed valuable. Last week I had the unprecedented opportunity to take part in piloting a residency program initiated by our district superintendent.
The beauty of the offer was that it came with no agenda, no exit slips, no paperwork, and no mandated outcome of any sort. It was presented as a true investigation into best practices and learning from other teachers (not test makers or outside staff developers unfamiliar with the daily demands of teaching). For a week I left my little ones to spend time with another first grade class.
And I learned so much!
To witness and participate in their routines, management styles, materials, documents, investigations, language, and community gave me insight into my own. The experience also brought reflective questions...
By the end of the week I had fallen in love with this class and was very grateful to the teachers for letting me join them.
- What was I already doing that I could celebrate?
- Where could I make changes for the sake of my students?
- How could my school community improve its supports?
- What could I immediately implement and what needed a slow, thoughtful rollout?
- Why do we do the things we do in the way we do them?
Today Oni and I began integrating some of what I learned into our own teaching practices. The residency was a gift. A gift of time, respect and belief. It showed me that the tide is turning. Children and learning are finding their way back into the conversation.