It has been a year since I published the article, “5 Educational Concepts We Need to Eliminate in 2017”. It has been read and shared over 40,000 times since its publication. The feedback received from this article has given me much to write about over the past year, with many other articles from The Principal’s Desk originating from these exchanges. With 2018 fast approaching, I have five more educational practices to look at in order to reform our educational system and improve our schools.
Here are 5 educational concepts we need to eliminate in 2018.
- Tardy Slips
Many schools have a policy that states a child must go to the front office to get a tardy slip when they arrive late to school. While I can understand this if the child is more than 15 minutes late, I don’t understand this when a child is just a minute or two tardy. The child has already missed the beginning of the instructional day. Why are we having them miss a more instructional minutes by having them walk up to the office to get a pass that state exactly what we already know? With most schools using electronic attendance systems, a teacher can easily change a student from absent to tardy from their own computer. Furthermore, most teachers don’t take roll in the first few minutes of class so this change in coding is not necessary. Let’s not make the child miss out on more than they already have. Additionally, unless the child is driving themselves to school,the tardiness is more likely due to the parents than the child.
- Zero Points for Late Work
Assignments have due dates for a reason. Providing students with the responsibility of turning in work on time is teaching them an important life skill. However, by a teacher stating that they don’t accept any late work causes two separate problems:
- The learning opportunity is taken away. A child will quickly realize that they shouldn’t waste their time completing an assignment that won’t be accepted.
- A zero can greatly affect their grade. Turning in an assignment a day or two late should not drastically impact their grade if the work is strong.
The focus must always remain on the learning opportunity, not the grade. We also need to stop telling students that in the “real world” that their boss will not accept late work and that they will be fired. We all know this is not true. While we should not allow students to make turning in work late a habit, we don’t need to come down hard on them for it happening every once in awhile.
- Trading Electives for Extra Math and Language Arts Classes
In the wake of high stakes standardized testing, many school districts have opted for students taking an extra period of support math or language arts rather than an elective course. The research is very clear that a strong background in music, art, dance, or drama supports the curriculum for math, language arts, science, and social studies classrooms. Furthermore, for some students, their elective class is why they come to school at all. Let’s not take these engaging, fun, and beneficial courses away from our students.
- Strict Pacing Guides
Pacing guides need to be used as guides, not bibles. They should never be set in stone. However, I am seeing a disturbing trend in new curriculum that has pre planned lectures, worksheets, and homework calendared out for the entire year. Teachers are forced to finish lessons, units, chapters, and assessments in prescribed amounts of time. We know that children learn at different rates. If a concept in not understood, we must allow teachers the time to re-teach the concept, not force them to move on. This notion brings up the classic “I Love Lucy” episode where she is trying to package the chocolate that is coming down to conveyor belt, but can’t keep up.
- Overemphasizing Coding in Elementary Schools
First off, I am a proponent of computer science education for all students. However, I also believe that there is a time and place. Putting elementary school students in front of a computer for an hour one time per year and having them play a computer game that introduces the concept of coding is fine, but let’s be honest about the impact. They are not learning to code. I believe that this time could be best followed up by teaching children about the history of computers and how this technology has changed our world. We need to build in a context for what they are doing. Technology education should be embedded throughout the grade levels in the curriculum, not as a stand alone activity. This can be accomplished by having students engaged in makerspaces building circuits, simple robots, and dissecting computers parts.
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. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at www.principalsdesk.org.