Schooling Magazine

Don't Name It. Just Do It.

By Mrsebiology @mrsebiology
Standards-Based Grading, Understanding by Design, Professional Learning Communities, Assessment Literacy, Differentiated Instruction...we have a ton of names for all sorts of good things in education. In fact, I could go on and on listing initiatives and labels and acronyms for things that we keep coming up with and developing professional development about.  But they're all just names and ideas until we actually do them in classrooms and see that they're good for kids-and see that they're all just really interconnected pieces of a system.
I think teachers sometimes get tangled up in all those names and acronyms like a fly in a web, afraid that it's something new that they have to add to their plates that will prevent them from covering (*cringe*) their curriculum.  And because that web is in their way, they can't see that by not doing it students are losing out on opportunities to do some powerful things.  If only we could break out of the web of "gotta teach them stuff; I don't have time for all those names and acronyms." Imagine the powerful things that could be going on in all classrooms...
Also imagine if we could get past the "why change I'm doing just fantastic if it ain't broke don't fix it" mentality.  I was reading an article that popped up in my feed reader recently that talked about qualities of companies that have low turnover, especially a fast-food chain names Pal's.  While there were several characteristics listed that made Pal's stand out from other companies, the one that stood out the most to me is this one in particular:
"...even great people need constant opportunities for improvementOnce Pal’s [a business] selects its candidates, it immerses them in massive amounts of training and retraining, certification and recertification. New employees get 120 hours of training before they are allowed to work on their own, and must be certified in each of the specific jobs they do. Then, every day on every shift in every restaurant, a computer randomly generates the names of two to four employees to be recertified in one of their jobs—pop quizzes, if you will. They take a quick test, see whether they pass, and if they fail, get retrained for that job before they can do it again. (The average employee gets 2 or 3 pop quizzes per month.)“People go out of calibration just like machines go out of calibration,” CEO Crosby explains. “So we are always training, always teaching, always coaching. If you want people to succeed, you have to be willing to teach them.
What if we never allowed for that complacency in our practice to set in?  What if we provided consistent, targeted training that recognized the fact that people over time get stale (for lack of a better word) in their practice and need that "recertification?"  What if we don't call it recertification and call it "upgrading" instead and make it mandatory instead of something from which they can choose to opt out?
But there I go naming things.  Why can't we see that this upgrading process is just better for us as professionals and, more importantly, good for students and their learning?
And if it helps kids learn how to learn, then it's good for them.  That's what they'll need.  If it's good for students, we should just do it - and not worry about what it's called.
If it's good for kids and their learning, don't give it a name.  Just do it.

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