Saturday, October 19, 2013

Really a Risk-Taker?

If you did not follow #satchat this morning, you really missed a great discussion on Autonomy and the Learning Process in Education. The moderators did a great job posing questions that challenged conventional thinking on Professional Learning for Educators to creating a challenging environment for students as well.

The part of the hour that really hit home for me was a side conversation I had with Dea Conrad-Curry (@doctordea) about the impact of testing on teacher risk-taking. I started with a statement about state testing crippling the risk-taking of educators. I stated without these tests, teachers would feel freer to take risks in their classrooms. We would be able to create a culture for learning that we know should exist in every classroom.

This was followed up with a thought from Dea: "On Twitter we talk risk taking because we are risk takers. Reality: we are a minority. On the whole, educators not risk takers."

I immediately responded with: "I just do not know how much risk taking we will get when state tests are about half of teachers' evaluations."

Dr. Conrad-Curry followed with the statement that is the thesis of this post: "But before Educators can control they must become learners who apply their learning for change. Right now too many avoid stretching."

This statement hit me like a ton of bricks. The reason why? I AM ONE OF THOSE EDUCATORS! I have attempted to make adjustments in my instruction/assessment (many thanks to @WHSRowe, @garnet_hillman and @jsprfox for your continued conversations in this area). I have made changes in my availability to my parents and community by joining Twitter and starting this blog. I have started making myself available for mentoring at school to assist new teachers on their journey to improve their craft...

That sounds good, but after honest reflection, I AM NOT FULLY COMMITTED! I read what @ScottCapro is doing in his classes with both project based learning and flipped lessons, and think to myself: this guy is really pushing the envelope!

Also, I read about @mssackstein using Twitter in her high school classes to create engaged students in a student driven learning environment and think to myself: Why can't I do that?

The bottom line? I can. The problem is, I can not break myself away from those state assessments. I am still holding on to the excuse that my students are not going to do well unless I follow the same script from the past several years. They will not grow unless I keep doing things the same way because my test scores are good...

I need to get fully committed. I need to jump into the deep end of the pool. Currently, I am in the part of the pool where it is just deep enough that I can use my tippy toes to stay above water. This is not an educational deviant. The social deviant would be in the deep end of the pool showing everyone else that it is a great place to swim. Encouraging both colleagues and students to join them where the learning is engaging, beneficial and relevant.

Thank you, Dr. Conrad-Curry for lighting the fire. I am hopeful we can do that research project we discussed. I believe that is just the work I need to do to get me into the deep end of the pool. My students deserve that bit of risk-taking from me.

How have you gained the confidence to jump into the deep end of the educational pool?

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