Hell is sitting in a week long professional development session on equity that was not explicitly teaching teachers how to develop equitable reading and writing strategies. I realized my purpose in being here was to ask conscious questions that helped the other participants broaden the learning experience for themselves and make it more meaningful for their population of students. Questions like, "How would you use this strategy with students who are unmotivated to read?"
So many teachers thanked me for my questions and said that I pushed their thinking. One even said my questions addressed the elephant in the room. That makes me feel purposeful but it sucks because I did not come here for that, I came here to learn. I was afraid to tell my principal how I felt but when I finally called her, she reminded me that she did not send me here because she believed this organization had the answers on how to support Baltimore middle schoolers with getting motivated to learn, independently. She said, she sent me here to see what they were “doing around the nation,” so that I could continue to discover the “missing pieces of this puzzle.”
The issue during in this week’s session was the lack of time to think about how to scaffold the strategies they were teaching us, in order to help all students master the skills within the standards. Thats equity.
But too many teachers in the session complained of being tired of sessions on the “same old” strategies, such as close-reading when close reading isn’t closing the system-manufactured “achievement gap.” I need to research and find out if this sentiment about close reading is true about enough American schools for me to say it is a fact. And if close-reading and all of these other strategies that we keep learning how to do are truly not working, we need to learn what else we should do.
As I enter my first year as a doctoral student, I am going to keep this week in my mind. The voices of the teachers who admitted to not knowing what to do if the strategies do not work. And my own voice, who also doesn’t always know what else to do.
We have a different breed of kid—kids that need way more mental stimulation, way more than a highlighter and text codes. Way more than graphic organizers and chart paper. They need more and we need to be trained to give them more.
ps: sorry if I’m ranting — trying to get back to public journaling about education, with solutions, not sermons.