Recently I have reflected on our school system as a whole, and considered its evolution over the last 100 years. Has it changed that much, even though our world has changed tremendously? My answer is “NO”! Our kids need so much more than what has always been done, or what is good enough. They deserve more than the status quo. They deserve more than mediocre. I want more than that for my own children. How can we avoid the status quo, and recognize it when it creeps upon our schools and classrooms? We need to know the parts of school that, if not changed or removed, will ultimately cause us to miss out on opportunities to innovate.Missed opportunities equates to us not reaching all kids. Classrooom arrangement and traditional furniture, homework, delivery of content, student choice, innovation, interdisciplinary teaching/learning, and grading practices are a few aspects of education to be considered when thinking of moving beyond the status quo. Try using them as a filter for evaluating your own environment.
Who doesn’t want to exceed mediocrity? Surprisingly, some are comfortable with staying right where they are, even when more innovative practices are proven to enhance kids’ learning and motivation to learn.
The reasons for this may include:
- It is more “safe” to do what we have always done — fear of the unknown
- Fear of failure
- Pressure to increase test scores
- Teachers who do the minimum required of them
- Lack of vision
- Culture is stagnant — little or no expectations for adult learners
- Lack of connected educators ( those who do not have a personal learning network, using various types of media for learning)
- Expectations for grading
The path toward excellence is infinite…we will never arrive as the perfect school because our world is ever changing! If we do not have a vision for excellence, we will remain stagnant and maintain the status quo. Our kids deserve better than this, so how do we ensure they get more, especially when some things are beyond our control? Let’s refer back to the list of reasons for status quo above. What if we considered ways to think differently about them? What if…
- We chose one area at a time in which we could take a risk for kids?
- We considered failure as an opportunity to tackle status quo?
- We made a collective effort to go above and beyond each and every day, and held our coworkers accountable for the same?
- We focused on a common vision of excellence that all can see?
- We had multiple opportunities for adult learning by tapping into peers, and by reaching outside of our districts?
- We agreed to follow at least 5 new people each day on Twitter, and share a resource we find?
- We considered the importance of learning over grading, and refuse to allow the required grading practice to overshadow kids’ progress, growth, and success?
And the biggest “What if” of all… What if we held each other to the highest standard possible, respectfully nudging our peers toward excellence, while expecting the same from them? Educators, it is time to move beyond the silos, beyond the competition, beyond the fear of not being the best, to a culture of admitting faults, seeking support from our colleagues, growing a personal learning network (PLN), and using the phrase “what’s best for kids” as a filter for every move we make. We cannot wait any longer. The time is NOW to pull others along the path toward excellence.
Status quo is comfortable, but unacceptable for our kids. Squash it. Bury it. Refuse to allow it back in your classroom, school, and district. Push back respectfully on initiatives that don’t have kids at the forefront. Question everything. Be willing to try everything. Always be ready for what is next.
So long, status quo…