Monday, February 17, 2014

The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Paying attention to each and every student isn't such an easy thing these days!  This latest trend (hope to God it's a trend, anyway, so it will move on) of overtesting and data collecting  has created classrooms that look more like factories than families.  Kids turn into numbers and teachers become testers and evaluators -  much like the business world we're supposed to be emulating.

So how much attention can we pay to individual kids - as kids - when we have to pay attention, first and foremost, to the numbers?

When our district first started following the "edicts" of No Child Left Behind - putting up data walls to measure progress and scripting teachers and kids alike and taking creative and personal interactions - the hallmarks of successful teaching and learning - completely out of the picture, I wondered what could be next -  Family metrics?  Collecting data at home on conversations at the dinner table? (Remember now, the standard requires complete sentences to answer our questions by age 5.  One syllable responses not allowed!)  hand washing? turn taking?  milk spills?

But no matter what they say, our classrooms aren't factories and our best teachers try hard to maintain warm, safe, "family-like" classroom environments, amidst the micromanaging.  And paying attention to each student - either by listening to what she says or watching what she does - will always be the most important thing teachers do, our "most precious gift."

Be well today and always,

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