The Biggest Changes Teachers Want in Education This YearDec 29, 2022
I recently asked thousands of teachers what they want to see changed in education this year. Here is what the majority of people said:
Teachers are getting really tired of high-stakes testing.
We get why they exist. We have to be able to demonstrate that our students are growing and learning. And multiple-choice tests that assess a specific set of knowledge might be the easiest way of doing that.
But is it the most effective? Are standardized tests that cause teachers and students to devote countless hours of the school year to, that are mostly created by multibillion dollar private corporations, that only measure a portion of our students’ intelligence, really the best way to determine our students’ future? Are they really the best indicator for college success? Are they really helping prepare students for the evolving 21st-century workforce? Should we really be using them as the primary measure of a teacher’s effectiveness?
According to many, many teachers I asked, and also the high school dropout rate, college attrition rate, and global education rankings, the answer is no. Maybe we shouldn’t ditch them completely, but maybe it’s time to deemphasize high-stakes testing bit.
Teachers are sick of one-size-fits-all scripted curriculum.
So many teachers are chained to a one size fits all, scripted, boxed curriculum. They are told to stick to the script, do not deviate from it, do not add or take away from it, because this curriculum has been determined to be the best for your students.
Teachers are tired of this.
They are college educated, often master’s degree-holding professionals who have the knowledge and creativity to create learning experiences that are best for their specific students.
Curriculum ideas and outlines are great; I don’t think teachers are calling for those to go away, but they do want flexibility. They know their students better than some curriculum company, and need the space to teach them appropriately. Otherwise you might as well just hire a bunch of robots. But we all know a robot could never replace a great teacher.
Teachers are done with having to use classroom technology for the sake of having shiny new classroom technology.
Listen, technology is great and it opens the door for some really dynamic learning experiences. But that is not an excuse to force it into classrooms without a good reason to. So many teachers are forced to learn a new technology, whether it’s a learning management system, a grading app, or interactive whiteboard, only to have it scrapped two years later because of a change in administration or for some other reason. This is counterproductive and wasteful. It wastes time and money, something none of us have enough of.
Let’s not ban tech from the classroom, especially when it serves our students and deepens their learning. But if it doesn’t do that, and after the learning curve, doesn’t make life easier for teachers, then I’m not sure why it should be in the classroom.
Teachers desperately want more parent support.
Teachers are not infallible. We make mistakes, have misunderstandings, and commit errors. We are not perfect. But neither are our students. So many teachers are burned out from the helicopter, lawn mower parenting. We are tired of being second guessed, not supported, and accused of having it out for certain students. It’s exhausting and takes time and energy away from the classroom and students.
This isn’t to say that parents shouldn’t show concern for their kids or have contact with their teachers. But what if in 2023 these contacts were instead conversations, ongoing dialogue where teachers and parents partner up for kids. Let’s leave accusations at the door and instead have discussions.
Because here’s the truth, the vast majority of teachers went into this profession because they care about kids. There may be some outliers, but most teachers, and I mean most, want what’s best for their students. They’re not in this for the acclaim, the status, and certainly not the paycheck. Teachers are in this to see their students succeed, and if every parent could understand that, think of what could be accomplished.
So when you hear all of these, it’s not difficult to find a common theme. From high-stakes testing that only measures a small part of a teachers effectiveness, curriculum that is stripped of creativity, needless technology, to the need for parent support, when I asked thousands of teachers what they want in this next year, it’s clear that what they want is trust and support. So if you are an educator, may you be trusted this next year and flourish because of it. And if you are not an educator, may you trust the teachers in your community.
Oh, and teachers also want better pay, fair benefits, and more respect from politicians, but that’s a longer post.
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