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What Needs to Leave Education in 20204 min read

What Needs to Leave Education in 2020

I recently asked thousands of teachers what they want to go away in education at the start of this next decade. And here is what the majority of people said. Let’s see if you can relate.

Teachers are getting really tired of high-stakes testing.

I mean 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?

Well 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.

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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. Well 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 we do want flexibility. We know our students better than some curriculum company, and we 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 classroom technology for the sake of having shiny new classroom technology.

Teachers are sick of having 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 your 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 2020 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. We are not in this for the acclaim, the status, and certainly not the paycheck. We are in this to see our students succeed, and if every parent could understand that, think of what we could all accomplish together.

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, technology that often proposes to cover a teacher’s mistakes, to the need for parent support, when I asked thousands of teachers what they want in this next decade, it’s clear that what they want is trust and support. So if you are an educator, may you be trusted this next decade 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 different video and article.

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Trevor Muir

I believe every student has the potential for greatness. And I believe every educator can be equipped to unlock that potential.