25 May

Let’s talk so we can understand each other.

I really enjoyed this thoughtful article which I am sharing with you today. What a brave new Common Core world! There are so many educational buzzwords I have trouble understanding them. Maybe you do too. The constant is change; the future is now.

Memorial weekend means a lot to us. We all know someone who has sacrificed for our country. My son-in-law was in the navy in Iraq. He is a hero to me. I also constantly thank teachers because these “trench veterans” are everyday American heroes.

Obviously I am not comparing a teacher to a soldier. Yet I would like to make the point that our veteran teachers know how to teach. Internet ready-made lesson plans, grading systems, scripted programs, standardized tests serve their purpose, I suppose.

Schools as I have always known them are so technology and goal oriented I wonder where the pianos and rhythm sticks have gone.

I understand the role of teacher as “facilitator” and “guide on the side”. But that doesn’t mean I have to like or agree with it. The role of today’s teacher is rapidly changing.

When I first attended a meeting at Chapman University about getting in on the ground floor doing online courses, I didn’t believe that would ever happen, at least not to this extent.

Online learning is so powerful that I believe schools as we know know them may be “reformed” or replaced, ready or not. Since I taught and breathed school restructuring, we thought we were reforming schools back then. I guess not.

As  former school public school Principal I know what it took to keep the physical plant going. I was the Head Learner, Facilitator, Manager, etc. And I didn’t even have a cell phone.

It seems inevitable that ultimately many schools may privatize. Keeping an open mind until I feel I have more answers, now I have a lot more questions. I am reading The Smartest Kids in the World, and How They Got This Way. I wonder how relevant three countries’ methods will be in schools of the future, which are online?

If we can take the best from all sides of the equation, add rigor but keep the creativity, bring back the arts, trust and support teachers again, go for it. I certainly agree America’s schools must be top-notch to remain competitive. I’m just not sure what direction this needs to go, and what new schools of the future should look like.

In the meantime, I wish everyone would speak together in commonly used, easy to understand language. How can we hold a civil, collegial conversation if we aren’t using clear words? For example, I don’t think “rigor ” was supposed to have the many connotations it evokes.

I’m for whatever works, supporting public schools and great teachers creating gifted, talented confident, capable readers and learners.

Since I’ve joined Twitter, here’s a sampler of terms which have multiple meanings, depending on our background knowledge. I am not attempting to define them.

I see the virtue in many, especially project-based learning and genius hour. So please know I am open minded:

  • Flipped classrooms
  • Blended learning
  • Data walls
  • DAP
  • Common Core;
  • Cut scores
  • STEM
  • Race to the Top
  • Project Based Learning
  • Genius Hour
  • Data -driven instruction

And that’s a mouthful. 

To America’s soldiers on this Memorial Day, I salute you. To America’s public school teachers, thank you for making sense of the extraordinary times we live in and the possibilities of excellence for our future.

Leaving footprints on your reading hearts,


2 Responses to Get rid of the jargon and acronyms. Cut to the chase.

  1. Andre Royal Sr.

    May 25, 2015 at 9:48 am

    I agree with the overall sentiment and context of the above reading. It’s funny that that the word common, and core would be put together in such a way to instruct anything but common kids, who vary to all ends of the creativity & learning spectum. To me this isn’t the core of the problem, the solution is. If they applied an approach that consisted of flexible Individualized Learning Plans liken to that in special education & testing for learning styles that encompasses modern technology with more of a classical kinesthetic approach.

    Rather it seems childen are being molded rather than being taught to break the mold. They are inondated with rules that promote fairness and equality to such an extent it’s like witnessing a live action drama of “Harrison Burgeron” meets “Brave New World”. I’m afraid we will churn out thinkers who do not ponder or develope their individual rationale to apply deductive reasoning and to think critically.

    They’ve done the studies and they know the data, performance markers etc. are there to support a whole body approach to education- similar to that you can see in the medical/ health field. Ironically education in my opinion is a potential cure to the social ills they will face, as well as currently are encountering.

    • rwirtz

      May 26, 2015 at 7:53 am

      Andre, what you wrote is just amazing. I am speechless. You said things here that are so important I hope everyone stops to read your comment. Thanks for taking time to write such a thought provoking response. Parents and educators need to figure this out. Our kids’ futures are at stake. We figured it out at Bell Ave. You were there as a little guy and here you are all grown up, using the critical thinking skills you were taught. I am so impressed. Warmly, Rita

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