Autonomy and Uniformity

HI all,

Google Reader and prior to this Bloglines have improved my efficiency a great deal. I share and star things I want but often have trouble coming back to them.

This one I could not let go by. If you have not noticed I am trying to put up only my stuff in this blog rather than reams of links to other people’s work. I like this one and want to keep it and share it.  Thanks Mr Pullen – well said.

Random observation about teachers: The very best teachers and the very worst teachers both typically want as much autonomy as possible.The gifted teacher wants permission to go above and beyond prescribed standards and materials. He wants to glean resources from a number of sources, using the best parts of them to meet the individual needs of the different students he serves. He wants the freedom to make lessons longer or shorter, to intertwine subjects, and to adapt lesson plans from day to day based on student learning.

The lousy teacher wants the freedom to teach whatever he wants. He doesn’t want to have to teach much of anything in subjects he doesn’t like. He certainly doesn’t want to be held accountable for generating lesson plans or for meeting certain standards and benchmarks, because all of this just forces him to work harder and do more stuff he doesn’t enjoy.

The trouble is that we haven’t done a good job of allowing the gifted teacher the freedom to fly while still imposing tight-but-necessary restrictions on the lousy teacher. So all teachers get tighter standards imposed on them, causing the lousy teacher to at least be mediocre, but reducing the great teacher to just being fairly good.

Just as teachers are expected to differentiate their instruction based on student talents and needs, maybe it’s time for principals and other administrators to differentiate this autonomy piece with respect to the talents and needs of the individual teachers they serve.

cheers MArtin


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