By Teachers, For Teachers
In my previous teaching life, and by that I mean in my heinous first job, I was forced to work with a scripted curriculum that made me feel more like a robot than an actual professional.
Let me paint a picture for you. This is how a math lesson went in my first grade classroom:
[hands up in the children’s faces like a traffic cop desperately trying to not lose my place in the manual, or as I liked to call it, bonfire material]
“What’s 2 + 2?”
[Pause for dramatic flair of the hand followed by a snap, yes a snap. It was explicitly stated in the bonfire material that I was to snap...and who knows what would happen if I deviated from the text? Hey, it was my first year.]
[eyes totally blank] 4?
4, yes, 4.
[hand back up in their faces]
What’s 3 + 3?
[pause, then dramatic flair of the hand followed by a snap]
[eyes still blank, a few children wipe away some drool] 6?
6, yes, 6.
Even the ways we were to praise children were outlined. In our session with the staff developer who presented this curriculum, we were told there was to be NO PERSONALITY. Whoops! Was that out loud? I meant, no deviation from the manual. We were simply literate robots.
And it didn’t stop there. Oh, no. We were also provided with diagrams that detailed the layout of our classroom space. Poster A was to be hung to the left of Poster B. Banner C should be displayed proudly at the front of the room, while chart D was to be hung on the black board. I think perhaps the best (read “most humiliating”) part of this whole experience was when the administration came around with a clipboard to check if our posters were hung in accordance with the guidelines and if we were operating “task on time” (which really means is the seal balancing the ball on it’s nose at exactly 9:34 a.m....me being the seal in this scenario, of course).
My answer was to run screaming from the building in search of a school that took a teacher’s knowledge and expertise more seriously.
But the question remains: what can you do, with any curriculum, to create that personal connection? Here are some thoughts, and sage words of advice that I have gathered from some phenomenal, non-robotic teachers: