My first plan of action is that we actually look at our state standards and teach our students what they are going to be tested on and expected to know.  We have too many educators nation-wide that want to teach, “What they like, what they are good at, and what they are familiar with”. Unfortunately, the test makers and educational leaders don’t take that into consideration when they are creating their assessments OR the state standards.  If we as educators want to change the results of our educational situation, then we have to be willing to throw away or change some of those units that we love, and start focusing on our essential standards. If we don’t teach kids what they will be asked to know on our high stakes tests, we are setting them up for failure.

Minnesota educators need to start looking at the standards and teaching students what they will be tested on. AND NO!!! This is not teaching to the test. It is simply teaching our students what the state has deemed is important for them to know to succeed in life. It means centering our “fun” lessons and units around core standards. This way, when the state test has questions on missing factors and elapsed time, our kids will not be scratching their heads and saying, “I never learned this, this has nothing to do any of the units we did on ice fishing this year.” If teachers actually start teaching the state standards and we continue falling behind, then we know that our standards need to be changed. However, if educators continue teaching what they want, then we will never know what the problems might be. And don’t just try to make it through the text book every year, half of that stuff is not even relevant for our students. If you simply teach every chapter from the textbook as your curriculum, then you will be wasting so much time that could be better spent.

Another problem is that teachers need to open their doors and talk to the people in the classrooms next to them. And I don’t mean about how lousy the Twins are doing or if the Wild have a chance at winning the cup this year, because obviously they do. They have great goaltending and a solid squad that works hard. I mean teachers that are willing to say that their kids didn’t do well on the last assessment (that was based on state standards) and that he/she needs to go back and re-teach with some new methods. We need humble educators that are willing to collaborate with their peers and share their strengths and weaknesses. We don’t need teachers who think that if they teach it again louder and slower that their kids will magically get it the second time. We must have teachers that will work with one another and together create toolboxes full of instructional strategies that will help their kids succeed even when they don’t get it right away.  Collaboration is truly so important. Can you imagine if the doctors at Mayo never talked to each other when they had a tough case? NO, it is ridiculous and lives are at stake! So why do educators think they don’t need any help?

Well, I hope I at least got you thinking. I rant and rave because I care. I am  one of Minnesota’s educators and I truly want to see our students prepared for the challenges of a changing world. There is so much we are doing right, and I believe that if we can open our doors and minds a little more, we could see great change. And let’s remember what someone very wise once said, “Some people teach for thirty years, and some people teach the same year thirty times.”

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