Tonight I took Braeden to his school for family math night. Within ten minutes of walking in the building, three things were apparent…
- Table cloths are supposed to make worksheets more engaging.
- I hurt a lot of feelings with my blog.
- Those teachers have no clue that what “worked” years ago is irrelevant now.
We walked into his 3rd grade hallway and were faced with three choices.
- Fact family worksheets neatly decorated with a picture of a pumpkin
- A worksheet of multiplication color by numbers
- Multiplication musical answers…where kids walked around stepping on multiplication problems. When the music stopped, they were given a product. The winner was the one standing on the correct matching problem (FUN)
Before Braeden could make his choice, a teacher that I knew walked up and said,
Oh we know exactly which one your aunt wants you to do.
For the record, it took zero prodding for Braeden and every other child to choose the multiplication musical answer game.
I tried to ignore her statement but I knew at that moment that she may have possibly read my blogs. After Braeden left, this teacher, a different one than his own teacher, cornered me to tell me how much I hurt her feelings. She then went on to try to convince me of how hard they work and how wonderful their school is. To make her point, she stated…
I taught your son (now a HS freshman). Did he not learn with me? Did you complain back then? We’re doing the exact same work that we did then and it was ok.
Six years ago seems like a lifetime. I didn’t know better back then so I didn’t complain. In the last few years, as I’ve grown, I’ve been exposed to better practices than what we used to do. If you read my blog, I’ve even acknowledged my own mistakes. What I know now is that what I did back then wasn’t always best. I can’t help that being connected to education on a more global scale has changed my perception. No, the mounds of worksheets are not okay. I will not stop advocating against that. I can’t in good faith ignore it. As creative as Braeden is, he has to power down while in school and that’s sad.
We went on to talk about testing and how it drives what they do. She talked about needing to prepare kids for solving tough word problems and reading passages. They have to have those test taking skills, right? In the state of Texas, they do. Not teaching those skills can be the reason that some child isn’t promoted to 4th grade. None of those teachers want that on their backs. That’s why they haven’t changed in probably 10 years. Why change what works, right?
I ended the conversation by saying…
I’m sorry that your feelings were hurt, but my main priority is Braeden. In addition, I’ve received countless messages and emails from teachers and administrators who have said that those postings have helped them to reflect and re-evaluate what they were doing. Things may not change for Braeden but they are changing for other kids and that’s a win.
After acknowledging that I had the right to report matters of my family as I pleased, the conversation ended.
I wanted to share more with her but tonight wasn’t the platform for doing so. I wanted to share that she too could be enlightened by best practices. She could read blogs by classroom teachers who are sharing what their kids are doing. She could connect with other classrooms via skype or Google Hangouts. She could join twitter and devote countless hours to growth. She could attend edcamps and even Dallas area conferences. She could ask her students how they learned. She could start with looking at how many parents and kids chose options 1 or 2 from above…worksheets…Zero.
My reality is that being connected has forever changed me. When you know better, you do better and you expect better as well. Tonight further solidified my plight to share with even more teachers. We should all be reflective agents of change. We should all want what is best for kids. We should never assume that what we do, especially from years ago, is still okay.
I spoke up in a town where no one speaks. Tonight, I walked away from Braeden’s school proudly displaying the invisible dart on my back that they’ve all bestowed upon me.
In case you missed it…”we did the same work six years ago”…
Time to reflect and change.