Am I responsible for optional training that I haven’t had?
Every year, my district seems to start some new initiative and wants us to volunteer to get trained in some new magical education reform effort. Usually the training involves a week or so of your time during the summer. As many of my readers know, I spend a lot of my summer time traveling. So in most cases, when this training is offered, I’m out of the country or visiting friends somewhere out-of-town.
Besides that fact that I’m not around for the training, there is also the factor of deciding whether the training is worth my time. Every year or two there seems to be some new and improved initiative that will work its magic with our kids. I don’t know how many different initiatives I have seen come and go. I don’t think any of them have really had full implementation. So if any of them actually work, we don’t really know because we’re onto the next best thing before we’re done with the last one.
The latest thing is something called Disciplinary Literacy. It has something to do with posting standards in your classroom so the kids know what it is you’re trying to teach them. We’re also supposed to have a Guiding Question up on the board or somewhere in the room. I believe this is supposed to get the kids thinking about what they are trying to learn that particular day. So when an administrator does a drive-by observation for 7-10 minutes, will they see your standards posted and a guiding question? If so, they get to check it off their list. Does this help the kids?
I don’t know if it helps the kids. I’m asking them directly. I put up my guiding questions. We talked about them and I told them to be looking for them in all of their classes. I also said, “I want to know if you find this to be helpful for your learning?” The verdict is still out, so I’ll have to get back to you when I have a response.
On Wednesday, we had 30 minute class periods due to the late start from the PLAN and PSAT testing. I was doing a short assignment on logic and paper games. When my 4th hour started, one of the kids noticed that I hadn’t updated my guiding question. So I told him what we were doing and asked, “What do you think the guiding question should be?” So Bryan went to the board and wrote, “How do games like tic-tac-toe help teach logic?”
The verdict is still out on the Guiding Questions. But I think I’ve got one kid out of three classes that is finding it helpful. Or at least is having fun catching me when I forget.