Would I Want My Child In This Classroom?
A guiding question for educators should be, "Would I want my child in this classroom?" Educators should constantly reflect on curriculum and instruction, while attempting to answer this important question. If college readiness is the goal, then all students should receive a quality curriculum which prepares them for the next level of learning. The recently released Common Core State Standards for Mathematics assert that "It is time to recognize that standards are not just promises to our children, but promises we intend to keep" (2010, p. 5).
Would I want my child in this classroom:
1. if a majority of the instruction is focused on memorization and recall?
2. if the teacher uses a single textbook for history and does not teach multiple perspectives?
3. if the science and social studies classes are considered non-essential for grades K-5, because they are not tested?
4. if the curriculum is not aligned (horizontally or vertically)?
5. if the teacher is passionate about worksheets?
6. if the grading practices force my child to love a 95% more than the love of learning the intrinsic benefits of education?
7. if the principal of the school values test prep and test scores over student understanding and the whole child?
8. if the SMART Board is used as a glorified overhead projector?
9. if the teacher values straight rows and order versus student collaboration and project-based learning?
10. if the teacher views multiple choice tests as authentic assessments which prepare my child for the 21st century workforce?
It is not difficult to answer these questions from a parent's perspective. If you do not have a child, think of your favorite nephew, cousin, neighbor, or another child who is important in your life. Would you be pleased to find out that some of the teachers in the school teach the standards, while other teachers create their own lessons and units of study without following any guide from the state standards or local curriculum guides? Would you jump for joy to find out that the students in one sixth grade classroom are learning the essential learning outcomes while your son's teacher proudly admits, "I don't believe in a common curriculum or the district's curriculum map?" How would you react if your daughter enters college and spends her first year taking remediation courses? The courses will be on your dime, because one or more teachers failed to offer a 'guaranteed curriculum.'
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Do you have a teacher in your building that is opposed to following the state standards? Do you have a team of teachers that cannot agree on which key concepts to teach because they are a dysfunctional team? Do you conduct teacher evaluations and give high marks to teachers that still lecture for 45 minutes and then assign the students a worksheet? Do you know if your teachers have a college-readiness approach? Is curriculum alignment an activity that happened three years ago on an Early Release Day? As curriculum leaders, it is the role of teachers and administrators to make certain that injustice does not exist when it comes to curriculum and instruction. Injustice is easy to spot. Ask yourself, "Would I want my child in this classroom?"
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