I have been an elementary teacher for 11 years. I have struggled with my teaching potential clashing with my district’s mandates on how , when, and what I am supposed to teach each day. I have been jaded and dispassionate about my work. I remember during one of my many professional development days in which we were being introduced to a new district adopted ( mandated) curriculum, remarking that I felt like I was being forced to take a drink from an open fire-hydrant. So much information, direction, philosophy research, rules, scripts, just too much to master and relate to my students. 7 years later, I teach my curriculum with rigor and fidelity, on the same day and the same page as everyone else. Yet, my students average scores aren’t budging. They are mediocre at best. Yet I am a strong teacher and I know my students have grander potential.
I come up with new ideas to relate information but they are usually shot down because they are not in the scripted program. I must follow the script and keep up with the pacing guide. Small adjustments okay as long as I am doing what some researcher decided is best for me to do. Students didn’t get it?- “Sorry- use your intervention time accordingly.” Intervention time- 40 minutes 3 times a week. Not enough. Not good enough.
But I see a light at the end of the tunnel. Change is coming. Common Core is coming and a district move towards Formative Assessment techniques is coming. Finally, I can see relief. So I started researching I have read several resources on how to better teach Comprehension and Formative Assessment techniques some of which directly borrowed from my principal. But when I went in to check on these new expectations, I was told I must use the same curriculum and still do so with rigor and fidelity. Tension returns.
But I have found a new passion and urge to teach within the research I want to use these new theories and make my students not better test takers, but better thinkers. I teach multiple subjects with scripted curriculum But I am determined to tweak them (within bounds) not to get higher test scores, but to teach my student to be better thinkers.
My intention is to record my travails and success here. It seems a big muddy mess marrying scripted curriculum with formative assessment. My principal says it can and will be done. I fear it will be done half-assed and unsuccessfully, unless someone takes the initiative to do a little trial and error, share what works, and find the biggest obstacles rather than just waiting to be told what to do and how. So here I go. On a mission to teach my students how to think. Wish me luck!