dimanche 15 janvier 2012

Destinations and Road Blocks

About a year and a half ago, I heard the first whispers of the impending provincial report cards. Mixed emotions abound when the word "mandate" is combined with any kind of government-inspired initiative. Some say nothing good can come of decision-makers stepping outside their field of expertise and dabbling in someone else's pond, but here we are, nearly two years later, knee deep in the thick of things, and planning the next steps of the journey.

I have been fortunate enough to have been invited to pilot the recommended report cards this year. Many would not see this as a stroke of good fortune. The demands it places on your time and your teaching philosophy can be taxing, but with an open spirit, many new learning opportunities present themselves. I immediately volunteered to sit on the committee to learn more about sound evaluation practices and the best way to implement what was non-negotiable at any rate.

Eventually, I was accepted and my learning curve has spiked. This is largely due to the fact that I have had a very supportive administration team and professional development opportunities to deepen my understanding of assessment and evaluation in order to put these new methods into practice. The freedom they accorded me allowed me to test the waters and to bring my students along on this journey of discovery. They have benefited from it greatly. It is only with the opportunity to dive in that we can learn to swim.

This year is now half done and I am already thinking of those that will follow. Next September, the remaining 22 schools in our division will join the ranks of participating in the mandated initiative. I accepted the challenge willingly because I am at a point in my career where I have knowledge, experience and great leaders to guide me.

Many of the teachers who will now have this thrust upon them are not at the same place in their professional development. Some work in schools where sound evaluation practices are not even on their radar. They have adopted the "It was good enough for me, it'll be good enough for them" mentality. Many are not even aware that some of their practices are working against progress and can even be detrimental to their students.

A solution has been proposed for this impending problem. Guidance must be provided and teachers must be accountable for their professional practices. If what we are doing is known to be wrong, then why are we allowing it to continue? How can we defend our professional integrity when we are doing nothing to strengthen the foundation as it crumbles?

Unfortunately, politics play a big part in all this and much of what is desperately needed is held up by decision-makers who have the interest of dollars over the interest of the children who stand to shape the future. Let's think investment here. The sooner we start - the stronger we become. And isn't this what we are always trying to encourage in our students.

When we ignore what we know is problematic and stick a bandaid on it that does not allow us to see through the coverup, we lose sight of the problem and it is consequently never addressed. This is our responsibility. This is our duty. This is our real mandate!

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