I’ve gone to many conference, read books, articles and been involved with Professional Learning Communities in its official form for about 5 years. Assessment For Learning which is so tightly tied to effective PLC’s is also something I’m very comfortable with. Today as I listened to many qualified, knowledgeable and engaging speakers and presentations, I kept thinking something’s missing.
The focus of most of these presentations were around improving student achievement. Terms like “pyramid of intervention”, “common assessments”, “standards”, “accountability” and “collaboration” were used frequently. All good stuff. It was hard to disagree with much but my focus on the changing classroom and all that relevant and engaging learning looks like, forced me to question where the ideas of this conference take us. While improved student achievement is great, I”m still questioning what their achieving.
If they’re just achieving better grades, better study habits and better test taking skills, it doesn’t seem all that important to me. Now I realize that none of these speakers would say that’s what this does and they even reference rigorous standards and I think I heard the term 21st century learning (whatever that really is), I’m still fearful that the zeal to improve scores and test results leads to the perpetuation of school as we knew it and still know it. The strategies of PLC’s and assessment, if not combined with a real understanding of what kids ought to be doing in school leave use just doing a better job of the schools of the 1950′s.
While the stories were told of improved schools, homework programs, reteaching of material, I kept thinking envisioning schools where iron-handed principals and teachers lovingly force kids to do the work, the work of outdated curricula and outdated teaching methods.
Again, I know that’s not the vision they intend to create but those in the audience I fear do not have an understanding of how to become a learner first and lead kids to understandings and experiences that will matter. Can you have a discussion about improving schools and not mention things like connecting learners, consumers not producers, digital citizens? Are we putting the cart before the horse? Does it matter what we consider first? I think it matters.
Maybe it’s just me.
(I won’t even mention the brutal PPT’s by all the speakers! No kidding one slide had 12 bullet points! Oy!)
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