As we come to the end of another year, it is time once again to think about the changes we will make in the next 12 months. The world of education is changing rapidly. However, there are still many areas that need to be addressed.
Here are five educational practices we need to say goodbye to in 2017:
- Homework As We Know It
The debate surrounding homework is in full swing. Educators and parents are trying to figure out if we should give homework, how much is too much, how much is too little, and what should be assigned. After 15 years in education at the primary, secondary, and post-secondary levels, I believe that homework needs to be re-envisioned. We need to say goodbye to worksheets with 30 math problems and lined paper to copy sentences over and over again. Homework should not reduce children to tears and raise the blood pressure of parents. After spending eight hours in school, do we really need to saddle children with more work? They should spend their time playing sports, learning an instrument, and exploring the outdoors. Teachers shouldn’t have to spend hours correcting these mundane exercises that tell them nothing about how a particular child is doing. Some suggestions to change homework practices would be have them read, work on a project with peers, or investigate real world issues.
- Surface Level EdTech
I spend a considerable amount of time on Twitter and Facebook every day connecting with educators and learning new ideas. I have come across some wonderfully rich and intriguing uses of Edtech. Unfortunately, I have also seen a fair share of Edtech being used for the sake of Edtech. Children need to use technology to further their understanding and to increase their engagement with educational concepts. We should not be employing technology into schools that do not advance this notion. Cool new tools will be engaging to students for a short time, but will never yield the learning results that are needed. Educators must decide what the learning objectives are when using technology, not just by the shiniest toy.
- Using Yoga / Bouncy Balls And Calling It Flexible Seating
First off, I am a proponent of flexible seating arrangements. We need to move away from having students sit in rows or “cemetery” style, as I like to call it. I believe in students sitting in pods in order to collaborate with their peers on a regular basis. I believe in having multiple areas in classrooms for learning and allowing students some autonomy in where they sit and learn. However, I have seen too many pictures of “flexible” seating that shows students in yoga or bouncy balls. We need to remember that it is not what they are sitting in, but how seating arrangements are used to further engage students.
- The Traditional School Newsletter
For decades, teachers and administrators churned out weekly or monthly newsletters. They were sent home in backpacks of children across the country never to be seen again. We live in a digital world. Why are we still requiring schools to produce this monthly monstrosity? Schools should be using digital formats to communicate with parents and the community. Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and Google Calendars can easily replace the traditional newsletter. Furthermore, updates can happen on a daily basis. Pictures can be sent across social media as events happen, not several weeks later.
- Reading Logs
I am the proud father of a Kindergartener and a second grader. My second grader can’t get enough of chapter books. Part of her daily homework is 15 minutes of reading. I know that I am lucky that she chooses to read willingly and enjoys picking out new books. However, it can be torture for her to complete that dreadful reading log. I can’t figure out what purpose this reading log serves. Have you every heard a child say, “I can’t wait to fill out my nightly reading log”? I haven’t either. Let’s not spoil the magic that happens when a child learns to read competently and independently by making them fill out a glorified worksheet.
Time to say goodbye to these antiquated or ineffective school practices.
Dr. David Franklin, CEO of The Principal’s Desk, is an experienced school administrator, education professor, curriculum designer, and presenter. Dr. Franklin has presented at national and international education conferences as is available for school and district professional development sessions