Disheartened

Voice and choice.

Voice and choice.

That’s what everyone outside of the classroom is talking about. Students need more voice and choice. Voice and choice feeds into high interest which in turn fosters student learning.

After a year of being inspired, prodded, guided, and pointed in this direction, I have a few thoughts.. especially after a particularly dispiriting day.

1) If kids don’t have basics by a certain age (aka fluent reading skills), that should be a time where heavy interventions happen WITHOUT voice/choice. Choices should be made FOR them until they demonstrate the skills to be able to utilize their voice/choice.

2) If classrooms are expected to allow more voice/choice in ways that are systems-driven (without teacher input), people implementing those systems should expect to support teachers in the classroom.  Basically, if there’s a high-needs student in my class, rather than offering me suggestions based on theory rather than practice, come INTO my classroom and COACH this kid or COACH ME in helping this kid.  It’s not support or help if every time I send a kid for help (after trying a bunch of things and detailing out the events to you demonstrating that I gave plenty of chances and opportunities), you message to the child that they need to “ask for more breaks”, and tell all the teachers to help students “better exercise their choices”, then umm, YOU do it.

3) 21st century learners need academic skills first. ’nuff said.  If not that, then humility, teachability, and perseverance.  If not that, then we need more people to support the teacher.  Otherwise, what message are we sending to the kids?  As long as you’re not behaviorally disruptive, you’re fine?  Just cancel homework?  I have kids who get their ish done despite coming from dysfunctional homes.  Our homework is NOT hard.  All the kids do after school is play on their stupid phones.  What the heck. If they don’t know how to wisely use phones, why give them “voice/choice” over them?  If YOU’RE not willing to coach them on proper use, then don’t make others provide it.  Or if you just want to give them voice/choice, then fine. But in the end, again, what do we care about?

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