I never let my schooling interfere with my education.
I’d like your opinion on something: It seems the system in which we teach has changed over my 50 years in education—not for the better—and the big culprit is documentation. Do you agree? What’s your point of view?
[I’m hoping for a lot of responses, so I made a form with only two questions on it linked HERE. Please let me know what you think.]
Bart Nourse’s “Passion to Teach” shows how teachers can lead great lives and make great lives for their students by doing what their integrity requires: bringing out the genius in their students. Systems don’t educate; people do.
However, a 30 year veteran teacher watched this and said to me, with some anger: “I know this. This is what I want to do, and I used to be able to teach this way. You have to understand. I can’t do this anymore. I have both hands tied behind my back. There are only three things anyone seems to care about anymore: Documentation. Documentation. Documentation.”
Another teacher kept me up late talking one evening about why he finally had to quit. At the end of his painful tale I asked: “So here’s my big take-away: When I was teaching everyone knew that 50% of teaching was what you do in the classroom and 50% is preparation. What I hear you saying is that now it’s 50% teaching, 50% preparation, and 50% documentation. Is that right?”
“Yes,” he said, “but it’s worse. Now it’s 50% teaching, 50% preparation, 50% documentation of student outcomes and 50% documentation of lessons. You can’t work 200% and survive.”
“I LOVE MY JOB, BUT I USED TO LOVE IT MORE.”
An veteran kindergarten teacher I met on a flight to Seattle told me: “I love my job, but I used to love it more. The principal used to pop into my class from time to time and over a cup of coffee we would talk about my work. She would give me useful feedback on what I could do better. Now,” she said as she put her two hands two feet apart in front of her face, “she just sits in front of the computer screen in her office entering and managing data. Thank God for the kids.”
Some people are trying to design software that allows teachers to document and share what they do more efficiently. Their goals are to decrease the time spent on documentation and increase its value to teachers and students.
I’m thinking this is a topic of interest to anyone who touches classrooms. What do you think?
- What features of this software would make it useful to you?
- If no documentation were required by your superiors, would you still do it on your own — just to be more effective as a teacher?
- Here’s that form. Please let me know what you think. I promise not to give your email to anyone.