What About Resilience, Kindness and Courage?

I found the following list of personal traits a while ago while internet surfing at currclick.com.  The traits speak to the ‘human’ part of our existence:

What Standardized Tests Can't Measure

It’s an impressive list  — a list that speaks to some of the most important things we value about ourselves as compassionate and competent people — traits that we hope are imparted to our children.  As a parent, I want my own children to have these traits — to be proficient in these characteristics so that as adults they can thrive and be happy in our increasingly fast-paced and, some would say, depersonalized world.

Take another look at the list — a closer look — but this time tell me which traits are actually assessed in schools by having all students take a standardized assessment or exam.  I’ll wait — go back and take a look.

No … you didn’t go back and read them again … I’ll wait for you to finish.

If you couldn’t find a single trait that where all students are assessed in BC using a standardized assessment you’re correct …  NONE OF THEM.  Not ONE of these really important traits is evaluated using a provincial standardized assessment, or any standardized assessment for that matter.

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Courage – Hard to Measure But Still an Important Life Skill

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Pure Joy & Teenagers

I am sometimes asked by others what my favourite job has been in education.  I can honestly say that I’ve loved all of them — Teacher, Science Department Head, Vice-Principal, Principal, Director of Instruction, Assistant Superintendent, Deputy Superintendent and now Superintendent.

chemistry

I Loved Teaching Chemistry

But the one with the greatest Pure Joy has to be teaching — being in my own classroom and interacting with my students was awesome!  I was a ‘substitute’ teacher (now known as a TTOC) in my first year and then taught in 3 different schools for the next 9 years.  Those 10 years in the classroom at the beginning of my career were magical.

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Consumers to Creators

We’ve all been to school.  Look at me — I’ve never left.  So, we all think we’ve got a pretty good idea of what’s supposed to happen there.

Let’s review …

One of the historical goals of schools has been to provide students with enough knowledge of ‘stuff’ and ‘skills’ to be productive citizens once they graduate.  To achieve this, students have historically been ‘consumers’ of information or content — they learned from the ‘knowledge keepers’ — our teachers.  As curriculum evolved, new courses were created, teachers learned the content and then imparted this knowledge.  Sort of the ‘sage on the stage’ kind of process.  It was pretty much a unidirectional mode of information transfer.

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In today’s world, there is still a need for a content expert who knows ‘stuff’ — a teacher who’s been to post-secondary and become a subject area or learning specialist.  This need won’t change anytime soon — teachers continue to be an absolutely critical component of student success.

But times are changing …

In today’s world the role of the teacher IS fundamentally changing.  Content is ubiquitous — we can find it just about anywhere on the internet in a virtual space accessible by a few clicks on your smartphone or a verbal question to SIRI.  Content no longer resides solely in the domain of the teacher.  In fact, students are often far better content masters than their teachers on any number of topics.

So, what does this mean for the traditional learning paradigm?

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