Oh, man! I had no idea how hard sitting in the other seat of education would be for me. Being a parent and an educator, may just do me in…
Even before joining the parent side, I have been baffled by the lack of transparency and accountability for school systems (this includes universities) in regards to informing educators, leaders, parents and so on about what is good for kids and what isn’t. The root cause of this is grey, convoluted.
Why do these inaccuracies prevail? Why do schools continue to promote misleading notions? It’s likely in result of one or more of the following:
- Lack of life-long-learning? i.e. I have a masters in x, y, z, but finished my program x amount of years ago and have not researched to see if anything new has transpired in my field
- Politics? what “sounds” good
- Gut (heartfelt) decision making v. evidence based?
- The “I” factor? It worked for me or so and so, therefore it must be
- Trust Saying it’s so because someone we look up to say’s it’s so. This may be not all bad, but leaves a lot of room for error- lost in translation when you don’t own the learning, trusting the wrong folks, etc.
This conundrum has never been more apparent as it is now…
As I am looking at school options for my daughter, the ongoing struggle with educational practices continues, but now it’s personally relevant. In my search for where to enroll her, I found many schools who were great with certain focus areas. However it was very difficult to find a school that was strong in all areas: multiple contents, culture, affective learning, community partnership, child centered etc.
For the first time, the layers of who I am are truly intertwined. It is very hard to turn off my educator hat when listening to a school liaison, leader, or teacher share what’s best about their school or for my child (pictured).
Here are two examples from my first Parent Night experience:
My daughter was in the Early Childhood program attached to a local school district. My initial meeting with her teacher started with propaganda sharing, a handout espousing the benefits of Montessori over Non-Montessori programs. This information was inaccurate, old school at best. It would be hard pressed to walk into any 21st Century school and see what was being described. Another example from this evening was when my daughter’s teacher shared, “We don’t teach the letter names here. We call them by their sounds.” Hmm, well that’s a *problem! I wanted to say back, what do you call the letter C?
A few more examples of misinformation I am currently seeing in schools:
- Recommending Interventions for students that are ineffective, even detrimental (i.e. LLI)
- Teachers not being trained to know what their data means. My friend’s daughter continually shows holes in her Screener assessments, but the school continually recommends intervention not aligned to the holes being elevated (i.e. the child is struggling with Phonemic Awareness and child is placed in Read Naturally, a fluency intervention)
- Beyond analyzing, there are struggles with knowing assessment types and their purpose
- Memorizing Times Tables in math with disregard to number sense
- Non-evidence based curriculum being utilized
- Advertising teaching to different Learning Styles, they don’t exist
Having these unsubstantiated practices still rampant in our schools that are at times detrimental, is absolutely maddening for me.
The trick will be respecting my child’s teacher, not over stepping. It’s not the teacher’s fault; typically they don’t know what they don’t know.
If my kids are doing okay—do I just stay out of it? On the other hand, do I have a moral obligation to at least softly question, coach from the sidelines? What happens if they come across this blog?
I fault poor leadership (lack of lifelong learners), universities, folks willing & allowed to publish “best practices” without any evidence to back it up.
We need to do better.
I need to figure out how to balance the educator hat versus being mom hat.
Side note 🙂 My daughter no longer attends school referred to above. I am excited about where she’s headed this fall for kindergarten. It took a lot of school visits, it’s hard pressed to find a perfect school. However, there are many committed to doing the best with what they know. It’s a difficult era in education with a lot of attention being put on teacher practice…what I am speaking to here is not a problem directly on the teacher’s shoulders. It’s on school system’s shoulders. We need to do better, but with supports in place.