What is Next?

What is next?  I ask myself this question everyday simply because I learn something new everyday.  It seems like education continues to evolve and change at a rapid pace. I fear that in this evolution we tend to forget the real reason we are here.
We hear we must do this and we must do that.  Federal funding has decreased, and the pressures to get students to proficiency has increased. More and more, students are coming into our districts and less funds are available to get them the education that they deserve.  We spend more time as educators learning new technologies and implementing new mandates, that I fear we are doing our students a disservice.  I completely agree that we need to “keep up with the Jones” so to speak, but I also believe that we need to filter down on the “new” stuff and concentrate on the “what is important.”   All too often it seems that once we get a handle on something new it becomes the old and the process repeats itself.
Currently, our students take one test which determines if they are proficient or not in English and Math.   Imagine if we carried this same idea to other aspects in life.  I’m sure Michael Jordan has missed a free throw a time or two.  Does this make him non-proficient in basketball?  He could jump, he could defend, and he was quick.  We could apply this or a similar analogy to a student who does not perform well on the English portion of this test.  The student is extremely creative and innovative.  The student has people skills that go unmatched by their peers, but we labeled them partially proficient or novice.  The point is that one test cannot be a significant measure of academic success and school proficiency. We have got to change the way schools and our students are judged by this.
In any event, we cannot forget about educating our children. Technology is interesting and can be very tempting, but we need to make informed decisions about what is important.  We need to focus on the student…the individual student.  The more time teachers spend with their students, the better they will understand how they learn.  If we can turn our classrooms into student-centered classrooms and facilitate learning to the individual child, we will see our proficiency rates rise.  The more time we spend with our students and the less time we spend learning something that will eventually be replaced by the time we learn it, the better off we (and our students) will be.
As we look forward, I just simply ask that we continue to keep the students in the forefront of our minds.  A decision that does not positively affect our students is not a good decision.

Travis Jordan
Griggs County Central School