Our own worst enemies

We can sometimes be our own worst enemies.

Recently I spent a week in Orlando with my family.  I truly enjoy spending time with my family and Mickey’s.  But anyone who has been to the happiest place on earth knows that you often return home more exhausted.  We know that expecting young kids to spend multiple 12 hour days in overstimulated environments is a recipe for disaster.  One particular morning Dad and his middle child had a bit of an incident.  Setting out for the day we had to decide if we were using the double stroller or a single stroller.  Through a series of grunts and groans by my sweet little five year old conveyed her displeasure with her comfort level in the double stroller.  Dad’s response was profound – fine we’ll take the single and you can walk.

Well done Dad, way to put your foot down…  Fast forward 10 hours and those 5 year old little legs were exhausted and couldn’t keep up with the group.  Two hours later Dad’s back, neck, and arms were exhausted from carrying her around the park.

Why do we make decisions that hurt us in the long run?

I wish I could say that this scenario rarely occurs in public education.  In many of our schools we can find examples of policies, practices, and procedures that we put in place that damage our end game goals.

Take a look at common grading practices in many school districts.  Usually in the intermediate grade levels, certainly by middle school, students begin receiving letter grades based on points.  We reinforce this point accumulation as a measurement of “learning”, create cultures of competition, and place special recognitions on kids who finish at the top.  Yet as high school educators we are frustrated when students select classes based on “weight” instead of interest.  We see kids who are burned out by taking every high level course we offer.

We create these problems that drain our organizations and sadly, impede learning.

The good news is that the solution lies with us.

We can read any current literature and research on best practice grading and find that “points” do not truly motivate learners. Experts in grading, feedback, mastery learning, and formative assessments are more accessible than ever.  We can connect with and learn from educational leaders like Rick Wormeli, Bob Marzano, Thomas Guskey, and Ken O’Connor through blogs, Twitter, and other social media.  There has never been an easier time than this for educators to quickly learn and then do.

Do.  That’s what can make the difference.

Questions to Consider:
-What policies, practices, and procedures do you have that end up hurting your organization in the long run?
-What do the experts say about best practices?
-What are you going to DO?

Courageous leaders needed – thinkers AND doers.  Are you ready to close the knowing-doing gap and make the necessary changes?  If we are not ready, we are not only harming ourselves, but also our kids and our future.

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