What Do We Keep and What Do We Throw Away?

I've got a couple of keynotes coming up and submitted this as the title. I'm good at that; coming up with a title and then figuring out what to say. I realize that's probably the worst way to develop something but that's how I roll.

I tend to rely as much as possible on others to help me with this stuff. Call it lazy or smart, whatever, that's also how I roll. 

I began by posting this question to the twitter. 

Lots of great responses came in.

Thanks for the great responses everyone.

As you can see there are some patterns. These are really helpful to me as I try and connect the dots in my own thinking as well as try and develop a coherent presentation of ideas to share with others. 

In fairness, twitter does restrict ideas from being fully developed and yet it requires the reader to do a bit of thinking and meaning making on their own. But I do want to provide this space to continue the conversation and perhaps clarify my intent and thinking.

Many of the ideas of what to keep, in my mind are actually fairly new practices. Things like project based learning, teacher collaboration are not yet entrenched in schools but indeed many are moving this way. Part of my talk hopes to illicit deep rooted practices and beliefs about teaching and learning that we need to continue and indeed are classroom practices as opposed to system type practices and policies. My goal is to expose teachers to some new ideas, which I have plenty of, but also to remind them of great things they've always done and should continue to do.

If you have a moment, please let me know about educational practices and experiences that you had that were positive and that you feel we ought not to lose sight of as well as ones you feel are still happening that need to be ditched.  Feel free to expand on ideas already posted above or offer some new ones. 

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  • Keep: PROJECTS – science projects, math projects, social studies research papers. THROW AWAY: Worries about neat rows, neat penmanship & silent classrooms

  • Get rid of standardized tests that only allow the students to be seen on a one-day scenario – they only take a small and inacurate picture of the student’s capability. Allow students the opportunity to be individuals by using multi-genre assignments. Students always learn better when the environment can be tailored to their needs.
    Get rid of desks in rows and move to tables to collaborate. Get rid of the lecture/notes-only attitude and move towards collaborative learning environments where the students have the say on how they receive the content. More technological infusion by teachers – move away from chalkboards/whiteboards and Microsoft-only computer labs. Be unafraid of change and embrace technology in the classroom. Whew! Sorry, but it needed to be said! Hope this helps!

  • I’d do away with ‘one-shot’ evaluations and keep collaboration (both teacher and student).

  • In my ideal world, a teacher would have an assistant, 10 students and a 12 passenger van. Each student would have a laptop. There might be a classroom somewhere. But it could be anywhere. (I’d be delighted to give a group space at the nature center where I work, for example.) Students would decide what they want to learn, then use the resources of the community to learn it. Curious about where their food comes from? With the van, they could visit farms, grocery stores, community gardens, farm markets. Curious about the history of the region? Visit the local history center or museum, the library, the various historical societies… Oh, wouldn’t it be lovely?

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