Lately there has been a lot of talk about education in the news. Unfortunately, it seems to be a lot of talk about what’s wrong with education and how we can fix it. We’d like to take a minute to share our list of what’s right with education. What does it look like when things are going well? What are the signs that a school or a classroom doesn’t need to be “fixed?”
Here are a few of our thoughts.
1. Teachers are smiling.
We’re not just talking about the “nice to meet you smiles,” but the genuine “I love my job” smiles. Those authentic smiles to kids, parents and colleagues in the hallways, classrooms and teacher’s lounges are signs that teachers love what they do. Teachers smile a lot more when they are respected, trusted, encouraged and celebrated. A school most likely doesn’t need to be fixed when the teachers are happy.
2. Kids are smiling.
We want our kids to love learning, love school, enjoy what they are doing, and feel valued as contributing members of the classroom community. It’s our job as teachers to make sure we’ve created the environment for this to happen. Kids smile when they have choice in what they read and write, when they are listened to and respected, and when they are encouraged to do their best. A school most likely doesn’t need to be fixed when the kids are happy.
3. Kids are reading and writing daily and growing as literate beings.
A school that is working well has kids engaged in daily, meaningful literacy work. Kids have ownership of their reading and writing and are given sufficient time each day to practice. Kids aren’t doing mindless worksheets or isolated activities just to have something to turn in to the teacher. Rather, they are being treated as real readers and writers in the world. Their teachers are supporting them and helping them grow into proficient readers and writers. That growth is measured in multiple ways, not just with test scores. A school most likely doesn’t need to be fixed when kids are engaged in meaningful literacy work.
4. It is noisy.
We’re not talking about just random noise, but purposeful, meaningful literacy talk. Kids should be talking about their reading and writing daily. Literacy is social and kids (and adults) need time to talk in order to construct meaning and see the purpose that literacy has in their lives. A school most likely doesn’t need to be fixed when kids are talking about their thinking, their learning and their literate lives.
5 . More teaching than testing is going on.
Teachers need to be interacting with and responding to the students in their classrooms. Time is spent constructing the curriculum, choosing the read alouds, planning instruction, meeting with children to talk about their reading and writing, and assessing students based on their specific needs as learners. A school most likely doesn’t need to be fixed when teachers are teaching and not just testing.
What else is happening in schools and classrooms that don’t need to be fixed? We look forward to your thoughts!