Week Twelve: Time to Teach/Time to Learn Tally of Hours
November 3 – 7, 2008 Tally of time for teaching and learning
Monday, November 3: Uninterrupted day at school = 5 C & I hours
Tuesday, November 4: Uninterrupted day = 5 C & I hours
Wednesday, November 5: Substitute hired for my class so that I could attend the annual Shakespeare Workshop for teachers who coordinate their school’s Shakespeare program aimed at performing at the Denver Shakespeare Festival in May. Unfortunately, the report from the substitute was dismal and I am quite certain that very little curriculum or instruction occurred. Behavior problems trumped. Zero C & I hours.
Thursday, November 5: Field trip in the morning to the Colorado Symphony, which hopefully constituted worthy curriculum and instruction. Total C & I = 5 hours.
Friday, November 6: Specials art/gym in the morning. Students invited to preview the Book Fair (a fundraiser) for half an hour in the afternoon and then called to a 45 minute assembly about a philanthropic enterprise called “Penny Harvest” that a group of parents are sponsoring. Being generous, I could count perhaps 15 minutes of that assembly as curriculum. Total = 2.5 C & I hours
Week’s Total C & I hours: 17.5 hours
END-OF-SEMESTER BENCHMARK TESTS ARE CANCELLED!! An announcement circulated first informally and finally was made official at a grade-level meeting this week that the anticipated (or dreaded) December Benchmark Tests would not be given at our school. In my opinion, this might promote continuous learning right up until the Winter Holiday break rather than cutting it off at the beginning of December. (When a battery of tests is given the first week of December, there is no getting the students back to academics before that break).
The bad news is that the administrative team is now asking us to come up with “alternative assessments” so that they “will know how the students are progressing towards desired Montessori outcomes.” I am stumped and disappointed again that they understand so little about the goals and processes that constitute Montessori pedagogy and philosophy. There just seems to be no way to make them understand how Montessori outcomes are realized by each student at a different rate, in different ways promoted by different lessons and chosen activities, and that they are developed in the mind, in a hidden place. Above all, the best possible outcomes are the result of leaving the mental processing alone, undisturbed and unexamined, for the longest possible time. The secret is to Leave Learning Alone. Not abandon it. Feed it with new lessons, stoke the fires with new ideas and teach skills so that students can pursue those ideas freely. But DO NOT TRY TO MEASURE THEIR PROGRESS until they simply show it—in their work, in their performance, in their projects and their conversation.
Filed under Time Keeper: Tally of Time to T