Updated: Oct 5, 2020
Prior to March of 2020, students spent countless hours in classrooms doing what was asked of them, even if they had no idea why. Some struggled and some excelled while others fell somewhere in between. Many students lacked positive relationships with their teachers and some simply felt disconnected, as relevant curriculum was only something to be desired.
Has our school system ever met the needs of the learners who would come through the doors each day? Was the original intent of schooling to teach kids what to think or how to think? To teach what’s in the history books or to teach kids how to make history? Was it to teach strategies needed to acquire the skills to do the jobs that currently exist or to help students uncover their skills and giftings, in order to prepare them to do great exploits?
What is the purpose of education? This may sound like a facetious question, but answering it should take precedence over implementing instructional practices and educational policies, selecting curriculum, teaching students or making decisions that directly affect them. We must always ask the “what” followed by the “why” in order to make choices that will positively affect students. If we always begin by answering these questions, we will indeed lead students down the right path, fulfilling the true purpose of education.
Why haven’t we made notable advancements in education and transformed our nation?
Could it be that the education system's improper focus is the primary culprit and reason for the dysfunction, the failure, and the systemic inadequacies that we face year after year? The imprint left on the lives of many due to the education system’s traditional way of operating, has left many questioning their abilities and forfeiting their creativity. Students have become unsure of what they are capable of and therefore may not recognize the value they bring to the world.
So what do we do? How do we change things? How do we begin to pull back the veil that has hidden these issues so we can begin to address them, head on, one problem at a time? What steps do we take to make classrooms a hub for intense learning and active engagement? Are there systemic practices and methods holding us back, actually doing more damage than good? If so, how do we flush these ways out of our school system? We need to take a stand for ALL students by saying “No More!” No more irrelevant lessons, stale teaching methods, unengaging worksheets, and pointless assignments and yes to change!
Let our collective voices be heard as together, we take a stand!
To change our school system from the top, let’s begin to:
Question the decisions being made by those in state and local government positions, along with district and school leaders, faculty and staff and we require answers.
Get involved by attending school board meetings, sitting on school committees and by joining parent groups and councils.
Read and respond to current legislation to stay abreast of educational initiatives and speak against those initiatives that have proven to be unsuccessful.
If you are a teacher,
Exchange your ineffective teaching practices for proven best instructional methods.
Get to know your students’; this is of great priority. Find out what they aspire to become? Help them to believe they have no limitations!
Know the influence you have- Use words that help students to believe they can conquer the world. Speak life to your students!
Help Other Teachers- Share ideas, strategies, and engaging assignments with other educators for the sake of helping all students.
Be an advocate for students by standing up to those teachers who believe it's ok to operate ineffectively.
Be respectfully vocal when you witness inappropriate interactions
Periodically consider why you took this job in the first place. If your “why” can no longer be answered, it might be time to make a career change.
Be a reflective practitioner.
If you are a parent,
Get actively involved in your child’s education! They need you to be hands-on!
Stay in regular contact with your child’s teacher all school year!. Show up at parent conferences ready to support both the teacher and the students by sharing how much you value both teaching and learning. Show your child that you are a life-long learner!
Make sure to engage in rich, meaningful discussions with your child. This could help them to better understand why they are learning what they are learning and how this learning can be applied to daily life.
Let your child know that you are in their corner by only speaking uplifting and encouraging words, no matter what things look like academically. I can’t stress enough the power of words and their ability to make or break a child’s spirit and diminish their confidence.
Find out your child’s learning style and use that knowledge to help them engage in the learning process. Knowing how your child learns best is critical to helping them to find joy in learning.
Don’t forget to create learning opportunities at home. Turn off the tv and let your child’s creative mind soar.
If you are a school leader-
Pump up the volume! Use your voice and your position to let that teacher, whose only motive for teaching is to get a paycheck, know that you aren’t satisfied with or tolerating ineffective, inequitable practices!
Take your role seriously. You were placed in your position of leadership and are being trusted to make sure students are receiving a first-rate education. Kids don’t get a do-over. A bad year becomes a wound to a child’s soul and leaves room for the death of hopes, dreams and aspirations.
Model or have someone else model best practices. This is a great way to let your staff know that you are indeed invested in their growth and success.
Often met with pushback by those who have always “done it this way” or some who feel as though they can turn a deaf ear to the cry for change, I will continue to advocate for change and I implore you to do the same! For those of you who remain committed to the success of all children and you have made it your mission to help kids advance, keep up the great work! For you are truly a hero in the life of a child and you are what every child deserves!