Thursday, March 20, 2008

Regarding "Eliminating Loser Loops..."

Vicki Davis has a wonderful post about Eliminating Loser Loops: Free yourself and your school for success! on her blog. In her discussion of a unneeded, useless loop that caused her network to crash.

She discusses administrative loops and those who reach the teachers. If the mission of the school is the students, anything needless that does not increase the learning of the students is an unnecessary loop. Unfortunately, most of this is bureaucratic.

I need to first say that my principal does a great job of keeping the bureaucracy away from the teachers. My last principal was the same way. I have been in a district where that was not so. It is unfortunate that these last two principals have those useless loops occupying their attention as their missions or goals are difficult to meet due to these interruptions.

I would like our lesson plans to have a little more flexibility. If classes are using project based learning, how can conventional lesson plans still be written? One would either have to change them continually through the week, or write them at the end of the week. In PBL, you know the goals, outcomes and objectives as well as the activities that will get you to that point. I actually created a template for this that I thought could be used with the conventional lesson plan. I have not found a way to do this yet.
How can this be used/changed/made better in order to show what we are doing? I feel I need to stick to the square lesson plan boxes which takes me out of the project frame of mind. If the formal lesson plan can be let go, will it change the way I approach a problem - in other words more student-centered vs. teacher-contrived?

But her point is more than the paper work that teachers and administrators do. It is also the point about what we ask students to do. They want it to be for more than "you will need to know it some day" or "we need to continue to practice it". She says:

We have to ask ourselves... what is the PURPOSE of what my students are creating? Can I expand the audience to be more than just the teacher? (IS it appropriate to expand the audience?) Can I better assess in another way?

The learning has to mean something. I am no longer just doing worksheets to measure this or that. But, is what I am doing right now truly purposeful as well? I need to continue to reflect upon this, ask for input from students, and ask for more reflection from students as well about their learning.

And while I am at it, I will look at the unnecessary loops elsewhere in my life. The stuff in the home and in the mind that wastes unnecessary time and attention.

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