My school has applied and been accepted as a No Excuses University school. As part of this program, each teacher was given a copy of the book with the same name. I’ll be using this forum to document some of my reactions to the reading.
The first few chapters were a nice compendium to the presentation given to our staff. I appreciate that each chapter essentially provides an objective along with practical application activities at the end of each chapter. For me, chapter 4 is where I started to find meat in the reading.
College readiness is not he belief that every student will go to college. College readiness is the idea that every student deserves the opportunity to be educated in a way that prepares him or her for college if he or she chooses to attend. (Lopez 40-41)
I like the way this is stated. As educators, we should teach every kid like they are the next world leader, cutting-edge business person, NASA engineer, or whatever. Regardless of if students choose the option of college, they all deserve to be prepared for that opportunity. I believe I’ve always thought this, but I’ve never heard it articulated this well.
Changing the overall results of your school is not done with one sweeping initiative; it is done by finding lots of little ways to add value to the educational lives of individual students. […] Because we lack the ability to truly predict the future, we have no choice but to believe in every student’s potential to attend an institute of higher education. (Lopez 42-43)
I like these thoughts as well. No one knows the future. I teach 12-year-old students. It will be at least 5 years before my students will be ready to go to college. They deserve everything I can give them to prepare them for college. That is done one day and one lesson at a time. It’s important for my colleagues and I not to get overwhelmed by all the changes that we feel a pressing need to make. Instead, change must be made thoroughly and systematically. These changes are necessary because we do not know what the future holds for our students, but we do know our responsibilities to them today.
I think teachers are often overwhelmed by all the great ideas that we’re sure will benefit our students. I believe that we should constantly be bettering ourselves as professionals for the sake of our nation’s future, but I also believe that if we do not do a good job of making change, we void all of the good we could be doing. My goal is to always pick one thing and work on making it better until I am comfortable, and then move on to another new thing I can do to better my students’ experience.
For my first one to two years in the classrooms, this was management and discipline. In year three, it was working on systematic lesson planning and building my PLN. In years four and five, I’m really looking at assessment to inform instruction, and integration of assessment information to lesson planning. This is where I find my joy. Data makes me happy. I’m working on using that to really drive all of my instruction and planning. It was great to see that these things are an integral part of the No Excuses model.
More to come! This is only chapter 4.