My driving question of the summer is this: “Why do you teach the way you teach?” About a month ago, I quickly (and in my head), tried to count up the number of teachers I’ve had in my life. I included elementary, junior high, high school, college, grad school, numerous extra grad classes, and all of the conferences and workshops I’ve attended during my twenty years in education. Roughly, I’ve observed the teaching of 200 instructors. None used differentiation. Few used authentic assessment. Almost all used lecture.
Specifically related to reading, which is where my passion lies, I have never, ever, ever had a class in which I was able to choose what I read. Reading classes through high school involved worksheets, worksheets, and more worksheets. And quizzes. And tests. And book reports. And projects. In college, we beat a piece of literature until it died, and then we stood around it and kicked it some more, just to be sure it was dead (it never was, so we kept kicking).
Is it any wonder that teachers teach the way they were taught?
Even with the amazing research out there about the importance of giving readers choices about what they read, teachers still don’t believe that it can be done. I’m a believer in choice in reading (and writing). It CAN work. It DOES work. It’s not something that teachers feel comfortable with because they’ve never seen it done. They’re nervous about it. They don’t understand it. They’re scared to try it. So they stick with their class novels and analysis and objective assessments that involve bubbling. You know what I mean; these are the English teachers we’ve all had and we all know. Teaching this way is easy because it’s comfortable and the pre-packaged and on-line resources are plentiful. But the result is that students are not becoming readers or continuing to read as they progress through their teen years. And we teachers have to power to change that.
I’m here to start a Reading Revolution.