As we come to the conclusion of the standardized testing portion of our year, it got me thinking about all the great things we do with our students. Unfortunately for the past two weeks our students have had a very linear approach to learning. "Open up your chromebooks, enter your testing ticket username and password, answer the questions that appear on your screen. You have 60 minutes." While the New Jersey Student Learning Assessment (NJSLA) does give an example of what our students "should have" learned, it is certainly not the end all-be all of what they did learn. Our students are much more than a test.....and learning is much more messy than an exam on a computer.
I love the picture represented above. Weston Kieschnick, author of Bold School, tweeted out the picture this week. As teachers, administrators and parents we all want our students moving from point A to point B as quickly and as successfully as possible. However, we all must realize that learning doesn't work that way. In fact, it shouldn't work that way. Learning should be messy. It should involve loops, twists, turns, dips, curves and yes...more loops. It's like five rules of dodgeball.....dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge. (I hope you all get the Dodgeball movie reference). Learning takes time. It isn't often demonstrated in 45, 60 or 90 minutes.
As we finish up the school year, I hope you reflect on the "messy" year your students had. I also hope you reflect on your learning this year as a teacher or administrator. Hopefully you find out that your path and the path of your students was very much the same...…We should all be learning and growing together....and it can get messy!
I am very proud of how the students did for the past two weeks on the NJSLA. They worked hard and gave their best. Now it is time to get back to making a mess!
Richard M. Hayzler
A life long educator and current Principal of Pequannock Township High School in NJ, Rich is excited to share his ideas and thoughts about education and how we can change the world for our students and our staff.