The past two years in education have been unlike no other. Schools having to pivot to remote teaching and learning over the course of a few days, to unrealistic safety protocols and guidelines, to managing the wellbeing of our staff and students, all while trying to do what we all got into the business of education to do: teach.
We are all hoping for change. That change will come from letting antiquated ideas in education go and embracing new ones. This article is the sixth installment of this series, dating back to 2016.
Here are five educational concepts we need to eliminate in 2022.
- Interventions before or after the school day
More and more students are failing behind academically. Many schools’ schedules are already impacted, with little room for movement. Interventions are often regulated to the early morning hours or after school, making it difficult for many of our most at-risk students to attend due to family commitments or their own work schedules. Furthermore, it puts a strain on teachers as it requires someone to work additional hours. Shaving off and banking a few minutes each day will allow for an intervention / enrichment period a few days per week during the school day.
- The Paper Newsletter
A recent Pew Research report indicated that 85% of all Americans own at least a smartphone. Educators should be encouraged to use different means to reach parents on an ongoing basis. The weekly or monthly newsletter that went home in a child’s backpack for decades is no longer a viable or contemporary method of communication. Instead, weekly email blasts, blogs, vlogs and text messages will help to get important school communication directly to parents and students. Links and other resources can easily be embedded into these electronic messages, allowing for more comprehensive communication.
- The Weekly Informational Staff Meeting
We have all seen the coffee cup, t-shirt, and meme that states that “this meeting could have been an email”.
If you ask educators what they would like more of, the first answer you will get is salary compensation. The second answer you will get is time. Teachers do not need to spend an hour or two per week in an informational staff meeting where they are talked at, receiving information that could have been communicated in a different way. Principals need to ensure that all meeting time is used to explore best practices, analyze data, and to calibrate common formative assessments. Time is precious in education. Let’s not waste it on another meeting that could have been an email.
- Educational Martyrdom
Working in education is not easy. The hours are long, the stress and pressure are real, and the work we do is not always respected. Over the past several years, social media has been seized with posts from teachers expressing their frustration and or announcing that they are leaving the profession for greener pastures. These posts are difficult to read as it speaks to the erosion of our profession. However, the posts from educators about being proud that they are working late into the evening and on weekends because they are doing it for their kids further erodes the profession, creating a false narrative and unfair expectations. While everyone works overtime and puts in time on the weekends here and there, it should not be expected or overly applauded as it will be seen as the norm. Overworking is not a badge of honor one should wear or be proud of.
- Putting the Principal in the Middle
Principals are often seen as the main decision maker at a school site. Best practice indicates that a shared decision making model with all stakeholders at the table is best. However, there are many decisions that are made at the district level that principals are directed to enforce at the site level. There are times where these decisions are not uniformly agreed upon at the principal level. Furthermore, there are times where teachers and parents are adamantly against the decision that the principal must now enforce. This puts principals between a rock and a hard place, trying to satisfy everyone.
If principals are being asked to implement a new idea or procedure at their site, there must be buy-in at the principal level, so that they can speak to change. Too often, principals are left to defend practices that they don’t agree with by district administrators who do not work at school sites and are far removed from the epicenter of the frustration.
Dr. David Franklin is District Strategy Consultant for Nearpod, an experienced school administrator, education professor, curriculum designer, published author and presenter and has presented at national and international education conferences.