In Rick Wormeli’s Keynote address to the North Carolina Middle School Association conference last week he included 24 “things [he] would do if [he] was really brave and was trying to live up to the mission of our schools.” I would like to take some of his ideas and run with them. I’m not sure if will go through all 24 of Rick’s ideas, or begin adding my own, but over the next couple of weeks I’d like to examine some of these ideas and get as much feedback from you all as possible. Without further ado…
Brave Idea #1 (out of the order Rick presented them):
Open teacher practices to public scrutiny. The brave educator must have frequent opportunity to publicly defend his thinking on educational issues, formally and informally, rather than living in a self imposed kingdom, safely behind the closed classroom door. When we have to articulate what we do, it becomes real and actionable, something we constantly reference, not an abstraction.
I thought this would be an appropriate place to start for a group of blog reading and writing educators. Will Richardson has discussed the “echo chamber” effect in a couple of posts, most notably in “De-Echoing My Reading Practice…Help Wanted” I think this echo chamber effect is a part of education at large, not just the tech community. We naturally gravitate towards those with similar thoughts, ideologies, and practices. They confirm what we do, support our thinking, and make us feel safe, warm and cozy.
By opening up our practices to the scrutiny of others, we step outside of the safe, warm, cozy environment that we build around ourselves. This may come in the form of discussing grading practices that may be less than fair, pet projects that don’t really expand our students’ knowledge of curriculum, or perhaps, even the use of technology that does nothing more than increase our technology use/budget.
One excellent way to create this transparency for our classroom in through blogging our experiences. Many, if not most of you who read this blog are probably somewhere along this path. Occasional bloggers who discuss their classes, teachers who maintain an updated website with student class information, or maybe even the seasoned blogger who is on his/her way to getting students actively using their own blogs for education. The time for individual reflection is important. Reflecting on our own practice becomes so much more important when we are presented with challenging ideas. The best way for that to happen is to have as many people as possible give their thoughts, suggestions, concerns, etc about our classrooms. When we bring down the “four walls” of the classroom and invite the public in to see what we are doing, we may take a few hits to our egos that otherwise could be avoided. Once we step back and lick our wounds however, hopefully we can piece together some positives from the experience and find areas to seek growth.
How open to scrutiny is your classroom?