Wednesday, July 9, 2014

When Politicians Give Educators Lemons, We Make Lemon Meringue Pie

This really made me stop and think!  My title for the chart below would be, The Everything You Ever Needed to Make Change Model! Or, more simply, Lemon Meringue Pie.  If just one ingredient is missing, it falls like a delicate recipe:

Adapted from Knoster, T. (1991) Presentation in TASH Conference. Washington, D.C.
Adapted by Knoster from Enterprise Group, Ltd.

This model intrigues me so!  It is from the 90's but still rings true today, with a few specifics that need including/redefining.  I think that the perfect model (line 1) needs to operationalize some of its terms to make it relevant and current.  For example, the "Vision" needs to be a shared vision amongst the participants.  The "Skills" can always be herded and/or learned.  Also, the "Incentives" must follow the "now that" model rather than the "if then" model (Pink, 2009).  They need not be tangible, should come after the work, and must ring true -- always!  The "Resources" can be harnessed if the vision is clearly sought and the "Action Plan" in place is both lofty and flexible.  I'm not sure if "Success" is the proper term for the final product.  However, if we define success as attaining some form of the vision in a tangible way through flow and the group dynamic, the term may be more accessible.  Success is actually your next "Vision" making this more cyclical than linear.

This is what I feel educators tend to do with whatever "model" is thrown at us.  The current model, The Common Core State Standards (CCSS), are NOT representative here.  However, as usual, some brilliant noneducators have crafted these Standards as to say they are representative of what all children should know and by what grade they should have mastered the concepts.   Educators are only involved post-creation.  We are once again put in the position of being reactionary.  The newest rage seems to say that the Standards are good but the "roll out" of the Standards was bad.  Oh, and that's why the test doesn't work yet.  This, too, is insane.  The house of cards is barely able to maintain one layer!

So let's be the Standards Crafters and apply this chart to, say, win over the masses as they relate to CCSS.  Let's tell them the "Vision" is the actual set of Standards and that all students in any state have the same knowledge at the same time.  The "Skills" would be the understanding of the depth and breadth of the Standards themselves by those who will deliver them.  They say they are so deep?  The "Incentives" would be that the test scores count on teacher evaluations and can affect tenure.  What better way to incentivize our teachers?

Their "Resources" are the best!  Wait until you see this!  There are enough pre-packaged, paid-for materials from select companies that will make teaching like monkey work (red flag).  An actual teacher won't even be necessary soon (red flag, red flag!)!  Oh, and they are sorry.  The "Action Plan" was the only thing that wasn't perfect in this new unfunded mandate.  They didn't roll it out quite right.  So now professional development while we teach it at the same time is the "Action Plan" and test scores won't count against you until two years from now.  Whew!  Finally, "Success".   Now we won't have to test prep.  The test and Standards are so good that they will just be good daily practice.  It's that easy.  I told you it is good.  I told you it is here to stay so get used to it.  This house of cards is using super glue.  Rules or no rules.  The end. meringue

Nooooo!  Standardization is the opposite end of the spectrum of where we should be headed into the next generation of workers.  For they will be the group who work internationally, collaboratively, in all professions and paths of choice.  Personalization is the direction we should be going.  This is happening in other places in the world that are proven successful (Finland, New Zealand, Great Britain, etc.).  This is where creativity abounds and innovation begins!

So, let's bridge the gap.  It will take work and a ton of effort.  But isn't that the whole point?  We ask our students to use a growth mindset.  To take risks, bounce back, try again, and achieve flow.  We must do that as well.  So I yell again, THIS ISN'T HOW IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE!  However, while we counter this business model and advocate for our students and our profession, there is work to be done!

One universal way to help educational change along and use a growth mindset is to use this timeless model of change.  It can help to gain support of fellow educators, parents, administrators, and students to make it happen.  If we can each create our "Vision" anywhere from a small, student-lead, classroom inquiry to as far as blogging and tweeting publicly with knowledge as our ammunition, we will effect change.

Our change may be small and local.  Our change may be grand and global.  It is still up to us.  We can never give up!  It's our responsibility to make the perfect Lemon Meringue Pie!