Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Finally Reflecting (Advocacy)

I'm sorry to say my blog is like a neglected journal.  I have good intention (I really do) but life gets busy and blogging gets pushed to the side. Summer has begun to settle, VBS, camp,4th of July  have passed...and I am anxious to reflect and record my thoughts on the 2015/16 school year.

The 2015/16 school year brought with it a new elementary school and new grade level.  I taught 3rd grade for 2 years at my previous school.  I loved the students and my coworkers, and was sad to leave;  however it was time for me to move on.  Not because I didn't love working with 3rd graders, but because I could no longer (in good conscience) subject young children to the pressures of standardized testing.  Don't get me wrong I have the highest respect for teachers in testing grades, but my last year in 3rd grade had been particularly difficult, and I had begun to doubt whether the methods in place were ethical.

My decision to change grade levels did not come without self doubt and guilt. I felt that my moving to another grade was in some ways the equivalent of abandoning the cause...so I made a vow to continue speaking out against a system that valued test scores over children, test prep over meaningful learning, and test takers over critical & creative thinkers.  I sent numerous emails, shared letters, and told my story.  I know my story alone will not make a difference, but when combined with the voices of other Oklahoma educators, parents, and citizens we can create change.

My heart has always been in the early grades, so I was beyond excited when I was given the privilege of teaching 1st grade! In the days approaching the new school year I began to understand that  my role as a first grade teacher would give me the opportunity to not only teach and facilitate learning for my first graders, but to show parents what active engaged learning looks like, help parents understand the importance of creativity, exploration, collaboration...all the important things that a test driven system pushes to the side.  As an education professional sometimes I take for granted that parents understand what an engaged classroom should like. Many parents think of school as quiet rows of children doing worksheets.  I wanted to open their eyes to something new.  I wanted parents to expect more from education so that they would recognize the need for advocacy in the future.

I've come away with a deeper understanding of my role as advocate...I don't have to teach 3rd grade to be an advocate speaking out against testing.  I have the unique opportunity to lay the foundation for what the learning process should look like and share that process with parents.   I have the opportunity to discuss 3rd grade testing and it's implications with parents before it's too late for them to prepare, I have the opportunity to encourage parents to be their child's advocate!

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