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Anyone who has been in education for very long is familiar with the dreaded pendulum. It goes something like this… Everyone MUST use centers!... (insert pendulum swing here)…No more centers, only direct instruction!... (insert pendulum swing here)…No direct instruction, everyone must now use stations! You get the idea. Stations are merely centers under a different name. I even heard of a teacher getting chastised for calling her stations “centers” because the children would view it as play if they were called centers. What? Other pendulum swings are phonics vs whole language, timed math facts vs none, the list goes on and on.
Classroom teachers watch the pendulum swing back and forth. We take the good from each pendulum swing and incorporate it into what we know works for our kids. Effective teachers use different strategies for different students, subjects, and situations. In my opinion, the danger lurks in the district or school where the teachers are forced to use the trend each pendulum swing presents at the exclusion of other strategies. I have discovered through the twitterverse that those districts are actually out there. They burn out good teachers and stifle creativity. Hopefully you are not in one. There has to be a balance.
Allow teachers to do what they are trained to do in their own classroom without penalizing them if they aren’t on board 100% with the latest pendulum swing. Recognize that there is more than one way to achieve student success. Student success should be the key. Provide not only traditional professional development, but give teachers a platform to train each other! My district is fabulous about giving teachers the opportunity to train each other. Support successful teachers and help train struggling ones. But don’t penalize successful teachers by forcing them to use every educational trend that comes along at the exclusion of all others. Balance is the key. Rant finished.
Are you in an overbearing district? What do you think the solutions are?