What is my Personal, Plausible Future in Education?

Photo of Big Wave Bay, Hong Kong Island

Photo of Big Wave Bay, Hong Kong Island (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell
Buddha 

I offer you greetings, from Big Wave Bay, Hong Kong, on this Sunday afternoon. From today’s twitterverse, I read about how to plot my future in an uncertain world.  Living overseas, contract-to-contract, I write. I highly recommend that you follow the work being done on fastcompany. They force one to think deeply. Read on:

 What unique value do you bring to the world?  

Belief in myself is secondary only to my belief in others.

First of all, how does one answer this in complete seriousness? I do not think that I bring any”unique” value to the world. People tell me that I am “beyond outgoing.” I trust parents.  I believe that attention disorder is wildly overrated. I believe that standardized testing, in moderation, is an excellent teacher’s  friend. I believe that parents and students should evaluate teachers, each year.

I am optimistic in the future of education and have experienced drastic changes for good since I started earning a paycheck. I believe that teachers matter. I believe that empathy cannot be taught by lecture but through experience. I believe that kids want a structured learning environment but demand to laugh and have a lot of fun, as well. I believe that it is harmful to tell a nine or ten-year old that she has anything wrong with her ability to learn.

I believe that you cannot teach effectively when you are sick or pushed to exhaustion. I believe that we all need help to live a meaningful life. I believe in “kid language” and that sometimes peer tutors are the most effective tools in getting students to learn.

I believe that confidence is what I offer my students more than anything else and that classroom teachers cannot overemphasize  impacting real confidence among students. I believe in honoring and not fearing  “tiger moms ” for each successful person has a mom that has fought hard. I believe that “koala mom’s” deserve equal consideration and perhaps listened to even more actively.

I believe that there is little chance for a classroom teacher to  compliment a kid too much. There are just so many good things going on.

What is my life’s purpose?

My life’s purpose is to help others. For me, I try to do this through teaching. I try to do this by inspiring others to teach. I try to do this by working hard.

What is your personal, plausible future?

Hopefully, my future will be largely what it has always been: optimistic, focused, and in the moment. I am too old to think any other way.

What is your vision and plan of action?

To be determined!

“What are you going to focus on now that testing is over?”

#4thchat asks, “What are you going to focus on now that testing is over?”

This question makes me delighted that I am out of the US Public Schools’ system. My entire public school career loomed with the specter of school restructuring.  Thankfully, international schools generally do not put too much emphasis on standardized testing.

This one fact is a definitive improvement in quality of life. Fortunately, standardized tests are just a small piece of the assessment puzzle. Teaching without a looming threat of school de-certification really allows me to work on my craft.

Living overseas, I have been able to focus on learning-based curriculum. I still assess, however. My assessments are more for learning and not of learning. This has made all the difference. In short, my student assessments directly affect my teaching practice. They are more meaningful and viewed as more credible to all the stakeholders

International schools, from my experience, focus more on learning and not achievement. That said, we still spend some time with standardized testing. Mercifully, this time goes by quickly and we can go back to teaching the curriculum. This is a tremendous positive shift in my practice.

Reading today’s New York Times article further proves my point. Students are the losers in this game. Parents are rightfully scared that their kids will not get a proper education. Teachers must improve scores while not necessarily improving learning. This is inherently sad.

I will not try to offer solutions to the education reform movement. However, I offer that there are alternatives to the United States method of educating youth. I delight in the surge in online learning from Khan Academy. I connect students to Ted-Ed.com. I pay attention to folks such as Sir Ken Robinson, Punya Mishra and Sugata Mitra. I dream of a future where challenged based learning is the norm. I find myself energized by accomplishments of countries such as Finland.

If you are an American public school teacher, what are your thoughts on the standardized testing development?

Best of luck as you endure yet another year of high stakes testing.