The Educator's PLN

The personal learning network for educators

By Chance or By Change: Allowing the "Why?"



“You must constantly ask yourself these questions: Who am I around? What are they doing to me? What have they got me reading? What have they got me saying? Where do they have me going? What do they have me thinking? And most important, what do they have me becoming? Then ask yourself the big question: Is that okay? Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.” – Jim Rohn

Last week I read “Why?” Can Make Change Possible by Shawn Blankenship. Even though his words were from an administrator’s point of view, I started to think about how I manage my own “Why?” students in the classroom. Do I treat them as a nuisance instead of an opportunity to learn? Do I take offense and consider the question an insult? More importantly, do I encourage my students to offer an opinion and voice in how they receive their own education?

In a test driven educational system, there are high stakes and little time to hold Q & A. The focus on test scores have put a value on our teaching abilities and the effectiveness of our administration. Because of the jobs and reputations in jeopardy by the mood our students bring to school on testing day, studies of best practices and highlights of what successful schools do differently are flooding educational literature and media. Many administrators push anything and everything on teachers to raise test scores and appear successful. Teachers feel like they are puppets in a classroom that is no longer theirs. Little by little the potential to become master’s of their profession is restricted. Like Shawn said, if administrators do not listen to their staff and answer their concerns, it could limit any real change. Even more detrimental to the absence of change is eliminating what can come from change, success.

With that in mind, the pressure put on administrators and teachers is having a negative affect on students. Teachers have objectives to cover and state tests to prepare for. There is little time to answer students’ questions of “Why?” unless the answer to the “Why?” is on the state test. Students are eliminated from the educational process that begins and ends with them. They have little to no voice on the material they are told to learn and the way they are forced to learn it.

It is crazy to think we can decide how EVERY student should learn. We may make modifications or spend extra time re-teaching material for some, but our methods of instruction are usually the same. We often create projects and lessons we think are great, but blow up in our face. We get upset and blame our students for the failed lesson that didn’t engage them. But how much of our instruction is student initiated and directed? How confident are we that our methods are effective for today’s learner? If given the chance, do we change course because a student asked “Why?” and offered a better alternative?

Our students are experts on how they learn best. Unfortunately, they are a resource that is too often left unused. We pull from our PLN, Twitter, Edcamps and other means of Professional Development to help us become better in our profession. How often do we use our students for professional growth?

I began with a quote by motivational speaker and best-selling author, the late Jim Rohn. I wish Rohn’s words were plastered on our walls and written in our handbooks. I want my students to evaluate the job I do as a teacher. If I’m not passing Rohn’s test, I need to change what I am doing. But most importantly, they need to be included in the discussion. Their future is too important to leave it to chance and the decisions of an educational system many believe is failing them. The questions our students ask us to answer could be a start to the change we want to see in our classrooms.

Views: 56

Comment

You need to be a member of The Educator's PLN to add comments!

Join The Educator's PLN

Comment by dillonka on April 3, 2012 at 6:48pm

If we don't teach students to ask "why," we teach them nothing. If you tell a kid to stop questioning, you tell him his voice does not matter. You tell him his curiosity is unwanted. You tell him that answers are not valid if they are not written in the answer key.

If testing truly interrupts this vital element of teaching--and I think it does--we need to ask ourselves WHY we are doing it and if it's worth it.

About

Thomas Whitby created this Ning Network.

Latest Activity

Christine Hinkley updated an event
Thumbnail

20th Annual Online Learning Consortium International Conference on Online Learning at Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort

October 29, 2014 to October 31, 2014
Online learning is one of the most talked about and fastest growing sectors in higher education and corporate training today. The OLC International Conference on Online Learning is the premier global gathering covering this field.Call for Presentations deadline extended to May 19, 2014.See More
7 hours ago
Profile IconLaural Hartmann, Doug Ficker, Lua Lise and 10 more joined The Educator's PLN
8 hours ago
Joel Josephson posted a discussion

EU Multilingual Families children’s eStoryBooks

Great NewsThe EU Multilingual Families children’s eStoryBooks have now been published. There are 2 books, for 0 to 6 and 6 to 10.http://www.multilingual-families.eu/repository/for-children They are specifically designed to motivate children to be learn…See More
yesterday
Robert Sinclair Jr updated their profile
yesterday
John Marsh shared their blog post on Facebook
Monday
Teresa Conley posted a discussion

Still time to participate in letting your views be known through my study

It is not too late in get in on this study. I am looking to interview teachers and principals on how effective they believe they are in influencing student learning while operating under Federal and State mandates and district initiatives. I want to know what you believe the problem to be, what skills or knowledge are not being addressed in these mandates and initiatives and what you believe would best help you in your mission of providing effective, quality education for all students. If you…See More
Sunday
Teresa Conley replied to Teresa Conley's discussion What are you beliefs about how effectively you are able to deliver instruction while operating under school reform?
"Robin,  I am sorry I didn't get back to you sooner. Please, if you are still interested in participating in this study, contact me at tac014vr@gmail.com. We can set up a way to do an interview. Looking forward to it. Thanks, Teresa"
Sunday
Profile IconMike Pennella, Heather McFadden, R Lafrance and 11 more joined The Educator's PLN
Saturday

Awards And Nominations

© 2014   Created by Thomas Whitby.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service