Tuesday, June 10, 2014

For JB. And The Rest of Us Who are Being Ruined by Education.

My friend JB found herself at once pleased and alarmed that she was able to use the word 'rigor' in a game of scrabble. Pleased, because, heck, any well-placed word feels good in a game of scrabble. Alarmed because she found herself using the buzzwords of the edu-world in her non edu-life. JB is a teacher.

As such, rigor is really the least of her worries. She could find herself trying to ALIGN everything in her life. Alignment's a big deal. Check a teacher's pantry... it's either eerily OCD, bordering on the 'needs medical attention' or rebelliously chaotic - jars and cans facing opposite directions for no apparent reason, on the same shelves with boxes and bags, madness! Edu-speak is ruining them.

Then there's the question of SCAFFOLDING and let me stop you right there! This has nothing to do with construction or window-washing downtown. If that's what you're picturing, you don't know squat about education.

Are you familiar with all the PIECES? When you try to fit that piece in or when you talk about that piece or think about that piece you need to be aware that there are lots of PIECES in education. Lots. Not for the weak or weary, the pieces.

JB ought to be pleased she didn't find herself blurting out ROBUST! in answer to a question. Sure, people of a certain age will remember a coffee commercial with an excellently placed nose over a teaspoon of Sanka grounds, but those people should banish that image from their memories and replace it with an image of curricula. How do you picture curricula? That's not the point. The point is curricula should be robust. If you don't know that, back away from the education.

Speaking of backing away, I might suggest a little BACKWARDS PLANNING. This one kills me. 'We are intentionally backwards.' Really? That explains so much.

In fact, we're INTENTIONAL a lot. Very important. Be intentional. (Don't accomplish anything - 'accomplish' is not an important word in education. Just intentional.)

Everything is about METRICS and MOVING FORWARD, even though you are backwards planning, which may explain why often you are traveling right off the edge of a cliff. Irrelevant. Just measure and move.

And make sure you're NORMING and ASSESSING all the while! If you're not, get out of the game. You have no VALUE-ADD.

Something we don't talk about too much? TOUCHING. You have to look at how many students you touch, whether or not you touch them at all, whether you failed to touch. Interesting, isn't it? Because you have to do a lot of touching, but you can get pulled off the floor for hugging a kid.

And don't forget to address the needs of your DIVERSE POPULATION. If your population is not diverse, make that up, because having the needs of a diverse population is mission critical. Then, you have to address the needs. You don't get resources or support in doing that. You just have to do it. Like magic! Isn't that fun?

Last but not least, make sure you are DIGGING DOWN if you plan to get into the edu-world today. You need to really dig deep. Big deal.

In fact, invest in a shovel. It'll come in handy for more than one thing.

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