Blogging to you from Eugene, OR
On Saturday, I leave for Oregon to attend a week long conference on "Direct Instruction." I plan on taking my laptop in order to blog about my daily experiences and overall impressions on this method of "teaching."
It is with some skepticism that I approach this conference because this is about scripted teaching and implies that teachers cannot teach effectively unless they are given exact words to say to their students. Nonetheless, I will try to approach it with an open mind because afterall, my principal has entrusted me and a few other fellow teachers to take this training in order to share it with staff at our school site.
Even looking for information on what direct instruction is, I was brought to Jeff Lindsay's web site, which proclaims that direct instruction is the solution to underperforming schools. One of the quotes that stands out to me is if the student hasn't learned, the teacher hasn't taught, which is attributed to Dr. Siegfried Engelmann, the pioneer of Direct Instruction. Of course, I take issue with this quote because it lays all the blame on the feet of teachers. Kids learn and don't learn for a variety of reasons, one of which may be because of the teacher they have before them in the classroom. However, there are many contributing factors to the success or failure of kids in public schools.
One of my most problematic studens last year was truant over 2/3rds of the school year. Is his lack of success due to my not teaching him? Mind you, this wasn't some hardened high schooler, rather it was a 6th grader who looked up to his gang-banger peers and seemed intent on following in the foot steps of an older brother serving time in jail. The amount of time that I and my fellow team-teachers invested in him shows that we did everything in our power to get him in school so that he could get the education he deserves. There is only so much that one can do in a school system that has done away with counselors at the middle schools and has one VP responsible for disciplinary and truancy of over 900 students.
Overall, I just get tired of cookie cutter solutions that those on the outside of education want to throw at teachers. I think many teachers strive hard to reach all of their students through a variety of teaching methodologies because we recognize that kids have unique learning styles. Perhaps even more than that, teachers do not become teachers to fail kids, for when that happens, we question: what more could I have done?
Laugh for the day: In my e-mail today, I received confirmation for this conference. In the e-mail it states to bring cool clothing because the weather has been warmer and its predicted to be in the mid to upper 80's. G U F F A W! It's been hitting in the high 90's up to 107 in my neck of the woods.