Do you know what your kids are learning? I would say that most parents know “how” their kids are doing related grades, and the subjects kids are studying. However it is more difficult as parents to know “what” specifically our kids are learning. As a trained teacher, I took my first teaching job in 1992 teaching 7th grade science and 8th grade math. At that time, we did not have Common Core or Michigan Merit Curriculum. Lucky for me I had an excellent student teaching supervisor. Pam Packard, was Vice President of the Michigan Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and let me tell you, she made sure that as her student teacher I knew ALL of the State Standards for math! My point being… Pam was a great mentor for me. She was my ticket to doing what was right for kids. Today, we have many excellent and dedicated teachers that KNOW what is right and great for kids. Each and every day they are working to reach and teach our children.
So, what is the concern? This is my 22nd year in education. I know many with 30-40 years in the profession. Over this time span, I have seen MANY changes to the curriculum requirements. Some have been positive and some not so much, in my professional opinion. What do I consider to be the hallmarks of great teaching and learning…? All students need to be great readers, communicators, problem solvers, team players and need to value people our planet and our country! This is just basic. In addition, they should be excited to set goals, dream and develop and practice respect and a great work ethic.
Having shared what I think… I will add what worries me. Schools are required to do what is dictated by the Michigan Department of Education, MDE, and the laws of the State and Federal Governments. Lately these three areas have not all been on the same page. MDE will want one thing and the Legislators will want another. Meanwhile, one or both might be in conflict with the Feds. While all of this is happening, the school sits in limbo. One of the hot topics related to this kind of issue is testing, specifically MEAP. This testing has been around for years, even though it has changed many times in format etc. Presently, MDE and the State Legislature are not in agreement as to what the test should be for next year. Meanwhile, school still goes on, and we have no idea what the test will be; yet we are accountable. Teacher and administrator evaluations and student success all depends on the outcome of one test for which our state leaders CANNOT find consensus. Sure makes for an uncomfortable feeling.
All of that being said, at Clare Public Schools we will “JUST TEACH THE KIDS!” We have the people and the programs to prepare our students for anything that the state decides! Look at all of our successful graduates that now live here in Clare and all over the world! One test did not determine their lives, no sir. We all know that whenever “they” get this test decided we want our Clare kids to knock it out of the park! But until they do… We will “JUST TEACH THE KIDS!” Like we always do!
“The right thing to do and the hard thing to do are usually the same.”
― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free