January 14, 2010 by readlisaread
Man, talk about recursion…. Education is funny….in some ways, educational reform moves at a glacial pace. Yet, its practitioners are the first to jump on whatever Band Wagon is rolling by. I’ve been a classroom teacher for almost 15 years, and I have seen trends come and go, and come around again. I remember a particularly controversial bit of Ed-Legislation called “The Year 2000 Document” published by the BC government of the day in the early 1990’s, and intended to create great, sweeping educational reforms through until, and beyond, 2000.
It was my first job, my first set of parent-teacher interviews, and this couple sat down across from me to talk about their grade 4 son. As I started to talk about some of my theory and practice, they hastened to interrupt me to tell me that “Oh, we don’t believe in the Year 2000”. Now, I knew what they meant, but it always made me chuckle. Unfortunately, as with all government initiatives of this nature, the program–even the good aspects of it–was stripped away after a change in leadership was decided at the next election.
Ever notice how some Staff Room bully or wanna-be administrator is always so quick to start postulating on Best Practices? I’ve often wondered exactly how it is we can determine such a thing, given the ever-changing, ever-struggling state of education? Any classroom teacher knows that One Thing never works for Every learner, so how can One Practice be the rockinest of all the Practices?
These ideas were tumbling around as I was up late last night, editing a course on Online Community Building that I am co-facilitating next month. We are “inheriting” the course from a pair who ran it since the inception of the program. I had a real identity crisis logging into the course shell as a TEACHER instead of a Learner. I also found it difficult, at first, to edit/change/alter/re-word bits of the course– it felt like I was criticizing, or trying to surpass my own teachers. It took a while, and I had to give myself a few stern lectures, but there are some things I know are true: I know I am a good teacher, either f2f or online; I know I have a strong and inspiring online voice; I know my creative teaching style is a good, effective and results-getting style. Not any of those qualities are the Only Practice. I’ve learned, and learned well, from teachers who instructed with humour and irreverence, and I have learned from those whose voices were filled with quiet passion, and still others who had terrible communication skills but a world of rich knowledge and experience. By inserting images, cartoons and quips into the course, I was not saying “Begone, wrong-thinking and colourless banality!”, I was simply saying “Lisa Practices Here”.