Freedom to teach and learn

When I got home from work, I saw my daily quote from Einstein on my desktop and knew what I was going to blog about today. I have been feeling somewhat angst-y lately about all the rapid and broad changes going on education. It seems that teachers are being scared to death, with more and more mandates coming down from the state and district about what to teach, how to teach it, and the severe consequences that can result if you don’t teach according to the prescribed plan. Some districts even go as far as to tell you what you should be teaching on a daily basis with an instructional calendar and scripted lessons. I have heard the word “teacherproof” used as a justification for such specifically written curricula.

I am very happy to say that I have not been micromanaged out of being the best teacher I can be–yet. My school has been labelled a “turnaround” school this year, and it has been made very clear to me and my co-workers that our jobs are on the line if we don’t produce measurable results soon. While I would like to get feedback from admin on a regular basis, I definitely do not want the long arm of the law in my classroom, telling me how to teach. I enjoy the freedom to choose the methods that I see as the best way to get through to my students. As a professional and an adult who cares for kids, I would never “wing it” or “shoot from the hip”–I use the approved resources and standards, since they save me from having to re-create the wheel. Nevertheless, I found Einstein’s quote to be timely, as it underlines the need for creative people to have the freedom to create! I think we must focus on building classroom and school environments that support creativity. The magic that happens in the classroom of a great teacher is not mandated… it is the result of inspiration, planning and the special relationship between a teacher and his or her class. You cannot measure this with “data”, write it up in a textbook, or put it in a teacher contract.

One thought on “Freedom to teach and learn”

  1. This is a very important post because you express the sentiment of many educators across the nation. Continue to focus on creating a classroom where students feel they belong, can grow, learn, experiment, and create. Yes, as you stated, you have to teach the standards but don’t get sidetracked by micromanagement, short sightedness, or fear. Continue to “labor in freedom.”

    Be Great,

    Dwight

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