Earlier this week I received an update from Dan Meyer’s Blog. This particular post was about the electronic platforms and how they sometimes hinder the pedagogical choices of teachers. The link to the blog is http://blog.mrmeyer.com/?p=17917&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+dydan1+%28dy%2Fdan+posts+%2B+lessons%29. (This has been continued with two more updated posts on entitled “Dashboards are Hard #1 & #2. )
When I read this post, I had to reply. I had just experienced a very frustrating class with my developmental math college students where I often have a choice to teach in the same manner/order as the computer program they are required to use (by the college) or I can do what I know is best which has caused problems for my students in the past. I believe in teaching concepts – not slivers (section by section) but if I do this then my students are not prepared to use the computer program that they are required to use. It is very frustrating – the college insists that I continue to perpetuate the kind of instruction that has assisted these students to be in my class in the first place.
Later that day I received an article from the NY Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/03/science/applying-new-rigor-in-studying-education.html?_r=0 which said that research has found that the choice of instructional materials — textbooks, curriculum guides, homework, quizzes — can affect achievement as profoundly as teachers themselves; a poor choice of materials is at least as bad as a terrible teacher, and a good choice can help offset a bad teacher’s deficiencies. At first this surprised me and then I realized that the instructional materials included electronic platforms and the yes, a bad resource does effect my effectiveness as a teacher. Just as I knew from my work with curriculum that good resources help teachers be more successful – especially struggling teachers.
So what a quandry here…do I stop teaching these students that I have a true place in my heart for because the resources that the college demands of me to use make me question my integrity as a teacher. I do understand one of the reasons why districts and colleges require specific resources to be used. This practice has several purposes; one of which is to try to raise the level of effectiveness of teachers and another would be to try to regulate the curriculum that is taught. I will continue to try to work around the system that I am required to use so I can do what I feel is best for my students.
This does give me a lot to think about since my state is starting procedures for a math resource adoption. It only reinforces to me the importance of educating our teachers on the standards and research based pedagogical practices to ensure that my district adopts resources that support our teachers in using best practices and in teaching to the level and the target of our state’s standards.