Some magical shifts are occurring in our field. Transitions that are shifting the focus of our work from:
Teacher to Learner
Product to Process
Compliance to Empowerment
Rigidity to Flexibility
When Habit Strikes
I’m struck tonight by @kalebrashad ‘s wisdom around the epidemic of “over-prescription” in our field (Check out his insight shared in #IMMOOC Season 4, Episode 4) and how our nature to control can stifle these important shifts described above.
Consider the ways we overcontrol and overprescribe learning opportunities for our staff and students – sometimes so much so that we actually contradict our very message around creativity, empowerment, flexibility, and innovation.
Common Edu Over-Prescriptions
- Common Assessments | Although designed with good intentions, common assessments imply that all learners should learn the same things, at the same pace, so they may be assessed in the same way, at the same time. These commonalities (sometimes expected across classrooms and of all students) don’t allow space for diverse need or level of thought, and stamp out opportunity for student voice, self-assessment, and empowerment.
- Writing & Reading | What kids write and read is epically over-prescribed in our schools. By consistently telling students what to write about, we slowly diminish their perception of their ability to generate their own creative ideas. When we over-prescribe texts for students to read, we rob them of the opportunity to use reading as an avenue to chase their passions. Each of these habits contradict the very point of asking students to read and write in the first place – so they become readers & writers – regardless of the content.
- Lesson Planning | The art of crafting a quality lesson plan is a part of nearly every teacher preparation program. While it is true that we want our preservice teachers to exemplify elements of great pedagogy that traditional lesson plans call for, we must consider how our immense focus on inputs might contradict our call for an innovative mindset that screams “follow your students’ lead” & “give students voice in what they want to learn”.
- Daily Schedules | Both teachers’ & students’ days are largely prescribed. Our traditional schedules demand a certain number of minutes spent in prescribed activities each day, often arranged for us with the sounding of a bell. Rigidity in our school days can contradict our efforts to empower staff and students on their own personalized learning journeys. (Listen to how @drchagala leveraged his schedule to captivate the hearts & minds of his teachers and students).
This anecdote shared by @katiemartinedu offers a good measuring stick for over-prescription: Katie says that she knows her professional instruction has gone awry when educators in her professional learning sessions ask her completion oriented questions like “what would you like me to do?” or “how do you want _____to look?” Staff and students looking to us for the recipe to their success is a sign that we may have inadvertently stifled their creativity & freedom.
Let’s help our own cause by committing to exploring ways to reduce over-prescription in our own organizations. Doing so will help us better align our habits & practice with our commitment to creativity, passion, and innovation.