The most important thing that teachers must remember is that they have the power, not middle managers or secretaries of education.
Despite mandates, there are countless ways individual classroom teachers can subvert the status quo and teach precisely how they want to teach. As a white male with a PhD, I recognize that I am not the average public school teacher, let alone a traditional Kindergarten teacher. I have certain privileges. But because of those privileges, I neither let them go to waste nor do I expect other teachers to have the same latitude that I do.
I’ve taken a lot of heat over the years asking tough questions and looking critically at every new initiative. I’ve tried to act as cover for other teachers who have been less willing to stand up for themselves, promising to have their backs.
Whomever Whoever is the Secretary of Education, teachers are the gatekeepers. Education reform has and continues to do whatever it can to demolish that wall of protection. Almost like a positive affirmation, I remind myself everyday every day that I am in control of all the influence that the Secretary has over my practice.
I am fortunate to be teaching Kindergarten because I am not subject to an excessive amount of standardized assessments. Unlike other teachers, I’ve had the latitude and privilege to choose my grade level out of many interviews and assert my preference to stay in Kindergarten despite the transitions that other colleagues are forced to make.
As a result, I spend almost no time looking at the Common Core. I have no need for it. Because administrators don’t care as much about untested grades, and therefore spend less time harassing me, I can and will add additional play time, outside time, and adjust my practices so there is less seat-time overall. The research and evidence are on my side, so I tend to worry less about the consequences.
I also spend a lot less of my time complaining about the impact of reform on my practice because I am quick enough to come up with alternatives. If I can’t stand a certain strategy or new initiative, I’ll adjust it or find an alternative rather than piss and moan about it all the while attending to business as usual.
Ultimately, my students will learn and succeed on all the canned assessments that are thrown my way. I have the evidence and record to back that up. But always remember: you the teacher have the control over what extent any reform has on your practice. Try taking back some of that control and you’ll see what I mean.