We certainly could have legislative policies, however, which encourage teachers to ENGAGE students rather than test them to death, and provide more TIME for teachers to craft the sorts of differentiated and creative lessons that students are likely to find fun as well as educational. Perhaps we could assess schools based on a happiness and engagement index? Itâ€™s a revolutionary idea, but it just might work.
I guess we’re playing a little blog tag here, but this quote was on Wes Fryer’s blog which was in response to Helen’s blog on assessment.
At first I thought that a happiness and engagement index might be the key. Judge the success of the teachers, the success of the school, but the engagement of the students and the opinions of the parents. Unfortunately, Wes does point out that some parents will only be happy if their kids have loads of homework or else how can they be learning?
But I’m also worried about those teachers that would be think “we’re supposed to keep the kids happy” and not have any focus on the learning portion. Luckily, we don’t have many of those kinds of teachers but we know they exist. If they’re going to be judged on standardized test, they’ll teach to the test. And if they’re going to be judged on the kids being happy, well, learning be damned – let’s have a party.
And then, too, without formal assessments, how do you convince Billy’s parents that he really would do better to repeat second grade? You have no formal assessment to back you up.
At my campus, I think this whole “engagement thing” is bothering some teachers because they’re afraid it won’t work. I know some teachers that don’t want to leave the drill and kill, the worksheets, the memorization, because it’s what they’ve always done and they’ve always been considered good teachers and their kids have always done well on the standardized tests. If they try this… this… “ENGAGING EXPERIENCE” hoopla, what if their kids are playing too much and not learning? What if they don’t know their times tables? What if they can’t list all of the battles of the Civil War in the order they occurred?! They’re just afraid. And I want to scream – “IT WILL WORK!” But I’ve only got 9 years of experience in education, not 25+. How do I KNOW?
So yeah, no answers here.