. . . As a first year, untenured teacher in California, I ask: how far can we
go before the standards yank our collars and pulls us back? As I plan
summer school, which includes a reprisal of the Vagina Monologues read
by me, I think what I and other new teachers want to be sure of is that
we can still can push the boundaries even with the standards and Arnold
looming over us.
Is this true?
Interesting question. As I’m a third-year teacher myself, I’ve thought about lots of similar questions over the last few years. There’s an implication in Fred’s question that makes me uncomfortable. Let’s start there.
By assuming that we need to "push the boundaries" in our classrooms, we’re acknowledging to some degree that we need to work outside of our system in order to be the most effective teachers that we can be. I wonder about this, and I’ve written about it before. Do we really need to push the lines because they are in the wrong places, or is there a sense or image of the effective teacher as a renegade, one who challenges the mainstream for the sake of the challenge?
While I would certainly argue that there is much in mainstream education that requires adjustment and, in some cases, outright destruction, I don’t know that we need to be able to push the boundaries all the time. Some stuff is, well, pretty darn good.
Now, I’m in no way saying that this was Fred’s point — Fred’s question was a fair one. But I find myself sometimes chomping at the bit to challenge a rule or policy — before I’ve actually through through the logic (or lack thereof) in the rule.
I like Colorado’s standards. They’re good reminders of what’s important — without being so restrictive that I feel like I’m just facilitating someone else’s content. (By the way — there’s a tension here between feeling ownership of what I teach and realizing that, ideally, I am facilitating the learning of the content that is important to a number of different folks — my students and community included. Can anyone help me tease this idea out more?)
We do need to have some guiding principles that are shared across classrooms. NCTE and IRA have published these . What guiding documents are y’all using in your classrooms?
Do you find them to be helpful, or restrictive?