We have all heard that when life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade. No Child Left Behind has given you a lot of lemons and sometimes you need something a bit stronger than lemonade.
As an educator, you know that No Child Left Behind has had an effect on you. By holding districts and their teachers accountable for meeting education standards, NCLB affects everything you do in the classroom. For just a moment, let’s forget all of the negative impacts, especially considering that it may be working. According to Education Week, a study shows that test scores are going up.
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"The 50-state analysis found that test scores for both "advanced" and "basic" students rose in nearly three-quarters of assessments studied across states and grade levels, a level of progress only slightly lower than that of students reaching proficiency."
Today, let’s consider the positive impacts of No Child Left Behind for the educator.
No Child Left Behind encourages you to:
With emphasis on standardized, uniform achievement, most of the material your school district gives you is cookie cutter. It is material that is produced for the masses, not the students in your classes. This means that you need to be the source of creativity in your classroom.
You must be creative in order for your students to grasp the material they need to be successful. Since you know what works for your students, you can create and customize materials that will stimulate your students. NCLB pushes for achievement as the bottom line, so your school district will allow you to step outside the box if they want results.
This is your time to go against the grain and do something different. Don’t use the released tests as supplemental material—everyone does. Do something different—be imaginative, innovative and inspirational.
This is an opportunity to seek out knowledge that you consider important to the teaching of your students. Your first step can be researching the most successful methods in your content area or specialization by reading articles, books or web postings by professionals. Since all teachers are now facing the same standards, they are also facing the same challenges. Take advantage of their knowledge and experience.
Research isn’t confined to the library, though. You can also shadow your fellow teachers, test different methods in your own classroom or ask for advice in the TeachHUB.com forums.
Since you can’t avoid giving the test, do so with a smile and the confidence that you’ve given your students all that you can to make them successful.
Students will mimic your attitude. If you act like the test is impossible and unfair, so will they. If you rise to the challenge with confidence, so will they.
Ask for Help
Bring in additional classroom assistance. If your school district doesn’t have the money or won’t designate funds for classroom assistance, seek out volunteers. This may be an opportunity to get parents more involved or encourage older students to tutor younger students.
Once you’ve got some help, set a weekly schedule. Make sure they can commit to at least one time per week. Students like structure and your weekly planning will be easier. Also, avoid the temptation to give them something you don’t want to do. Give volunteers something they can handle with ease, perhaps helping one to three students while you oversee the class.
Celebrate Every Success
Celebrate improvement, whether it is big or small. Even if Johnnie still can’t pass the test, celebrate the fact that through both of your dedication and hard work, he made strides and is on the right track. Remember, you are a professional educator, not a superhero.
No Child Left Behind may not be ideal or perfect or even good, but for now, it’s a reality. Until something new comes along to replace it, let NCLB encourage you to take the grapes that fall from the vine early, make champagne and give yourself a toast. Cheers.