At the end of the term, most of my students agree that our time together was well spent, and it was probably one of the best classes they have had. Hence, I would like to share my secret on student engagement:
When I became a college professor, the first teaching supplies I purchased were a red Solo cup, wooden tongue depressors and markers. Today, I am using this same technique in my college classes in our School of Education that Dr. Freiberg started earlier in K-12 schools.
This cycle of dysfunction is a reality for educators across the country, and is part of the reason why achievement gaps exist, dropout rates remain high, and teacher retention is a perpetual issue. I describe five approaches that have a proven record of being successful in the many schools.
If we don't want education to be dressed in a culture of defensiveness and excuses, then we must take them away by welcoming such classroom foibles as authentic opportunities to flourish, not as shortcomings to bemoan.
The problem seems evident in the language. We 'adopt' programs. We 'purchase' materials. We 'integrate' technology. We even 'train' teachers. For all of the changing programs referenced, how many teachers actually changed their practice?
I know that it takes time to discover each child's river, but it can be done even when there are more than six in a room at once. Teachers need to put down lesson plans and pick up their ears, instead.
Students must learn to grapple -- both now and in the future -- with a question central to the spirit and heart of democracy, a question both simple and profound, straight-forward and twisty: what's your story? How will you find the voice to tell it fully and fairly?