Will Richardson, in his article “9 Elephants in the (Class)room That Should Unsettle Us”, said some things that should wake us up as future teachers. The “elephants” that he listed in our classroom are things that we all know to be true, but none of us want to acknowledge because we simply do not know what to do to fix it.
One of the elephants that really caught my attention was number 4, which states, “we know that we’re not assessing many of the things that really matter for future success.” I think this is pretty unnerving because there seems to be nothing that I can do about it. When I become a teacher, I have to assess my students in the way that the standards tell me to, not in the way that I truly believe is effective. If the teachers aren’t happy about it, the students aren’t happy about it, and the administration isn’t happy about it, then who is? And if the answer is no one, why do we keep doing it? I think that we need to start focusing on assessing our students in ways that will benefit them for the rest of their lives, not just until they get into a good college with their scores.
Another elephant that caught my attention was “We know that grades, not learning, are the outcomes that students and parents are most interested in”. This statement is 100% accurate, and I don’t know a single parent or student, including myself, that could disagree with it. From the day we start school, we learn that getting good grades is important. When you are sent to school, your parents say, “Get good grades!”, not, “Learn something importan
t!”, and that is because we all want to say we got good grades, to get into that good school, and to receive that letter telling us that we made the Dean’s List. But what happens to that letter when we graduate, go off to find a job, and don’t remember anything that we have been learning for the last 18+ years? We need to start caring about what we are learning and how we can become more engaged and invested in our education rather than our grades because then we will be more successful in our lives.
I am going to be a teacher some day, and when I am, I want to help my students. I want to prepare them for the real world. I want to show them just how exciting being a lifelong learner can be. I do not want to drill into their brains that assessments and grades are what define them because it isn’t true. They need someone to cheer them on and help them find whatever it is that makes things click, and I hope that I can be that person for my students.
Thanks for reading!