Saturday, October 29, 2016

Saturday Sayings: Just Because it Works




"I have no original thoughts of my own." I periodically borrow this phrase from my cousin David. I suppose those words are not altogether true, but I do often rely on the wisdom of mentors who seem way smarter than I could ever be. Having said that, the phrase below is actually mine. 

Just because it works doesn't mean it's good for kids.

I'd like to define "works." I imagine most stakeholders would equate "works" with acceptable test scores. If the numbers are good, then the instruction must have been also and kids are in good shape for the future. Herein lies the misconception. If children score well but the methods used don't inspire them, then it was definitely not in their best interest and they are essentially no better off than before instruction began. 

I believe it's possible to drag a class of students to good scores while leaving them blind to the joys of learning. I could most likely spend the majority of my day killing and drilling my students to good fluency reading scores with pure phonics, isolated sight words, decodable reading passages,  meaningless worksheets or activities, and then topping it off with pointless homework without them really ever learning the joys of time spent listening and interacting with amazing read-alouds or reading independently or in partnerships or in book clubs with real live books in their hands. These students might get good fluency scores, but they won't be in love with books and most likely quite the opposite will be true.

As Burgess says, building a love of learning in our students takes priority over anything else, and our instruction must reflect that. What indeed are we nurturing? 

Great test scores or students? 


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6 comments:

  1. I completely agree with this. I just had a very depressing conversation with a former student yesterday. He is now in 4th Grade and said he now hates school-it's so boring! I hate to hear that. I also think the opposite can be true as well. I think your students can be learning lots of things that may not show up in those test scores-if one of the things they are learning is to love reading then haven't you succeeded as a teacher? Great post! :)

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    1. Miss Trayers, you're very right. Tests don't measure how well we've nurtured children and their love of learning. That's the true proof that what we're doing works. :)

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  2. You are absolutely the most inspiring teacher! Thank you for always bringing it back to the children.

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    1. Wow Lyn. That means a lot to me, and I know you don't say it lightly. Thank you.

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  3. Wise words. I don't think anyone gets excited about doing another worksheet! ;)

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