1. Teacher Life

Accountability to What’s Important in Education

In this post, I was able to share some thoughts on a tweet by Weston Kieschnickin the post below.  You can also check the expanded ideas on my podcast, as well as YouTube. Later this week, I will post a conversation I had with Weston on this topic as well.

Check out the podcast on Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, or Spotify, or you can watch it on YouTube as well.

I was scrolling through Instagram, and I noticed this post by my friend Weston Kieschnick.

Something about it caught my attention. 

Of course, I agree about the part that teachers are working harder than ever.  But the “accountability” part stuck out to me.  I believe that teachers are working as hard as they are right now because they are accountable to the right things.

The needs, passions, and strengths of their students.

The needs of their families and the community.

The needs of their colleagues.

Yet the word “accountability” is often linked to scores and tests. But with those things being temporarily removed in many situations, you see a focus and energy put into areas that will have an impact on learners in more valuable ways, even in a challenging time.

And it is not that educators haven’t always been focused on these things. But with all of the extras and, sometimes, the focus on scores and data, the genuinely life-changing work is harder to do.

One of the terms I have always struggled with is “data-driven.”  I do believe that anyone who uses this term wants to help kids, and I always assume the best, but we should never be driven by “data,” but by the people in front of us that we serve.

I shared the importance of being “Learner-Driven, Evidence-Informed” in Innovate Inside the Box:

…focusing on learner-driven, evidence-informed practices does not mean we forgo either “academic” or “non-academic” learning; it means that all of these experiences are important to our students’ success.

Data is not a bad thing, although I do prefer the much more encompassing term of “evidence.” We should just never be “driven” by it.

So with standardize tests removed, it is easier to focus on the right things. But what about when our students come back to school? Administrators have a significant impact on where the focus goes in a school or district, but we do not have to give up “test scores” to focus on the whole child.  I truly believe the following:

When we focus on the learner, the score will go up. If we focus on the score, we can lose our students in the process.

I saw this tweet from @AlixeKirouac about students doing a type of virtual “Identity Day” (I shared this idea and others in this post on student-led learning during “Emergency Remote Teaching”) where they were able to share their passions:

This process is something that I have been an advocate of for years. Allowing students to share their passions should be seen as an investment into each learner.  As an educator, you will be able to dig deeper into who they are, what they are excited, and be able to connect to the curriculum. Not only that, having students show up to school feeling valued and that their contributions are necessary and vital to the classroom will help them get through some of the tough learning we do in school. 

What I have noticed about this time is that we are being reminded by what matters.  There will always be barriers and constraints of some sort in front of us, and we need to continue to push the boundaries to do what is right for kids. But as we continuously strive to make schools better, we still can keep a focus on what we are genuinely accountable to; our kids and our colleagues. Focus on that, and the other stuff will be just fine.

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