Philosophical Shift: How to train your mind and guide your class
By Christian Ehrhart
As Einstein said, “the only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.” It is time we are no longer interference, but an influence.
Getting right to the point – you must fight every urge to use what you have learned about the point of assessment. Learning can be the only outcome. In a world where the product drives how students are evaluated, the products no longer have any evaluative sense. Each product now must take on a role as an instructional tool. Learning is the only outcome that I care to produce in the classroom. You may find it extremely difficult to become comfortable with the idea that knowledge must come first, and once knowledge is gained, achievement will follow. Your only focus is on learning – the grade essentially becomes something for students and parents. If students achieve the minimum standard, then I am comfortable with their learning.
Think of the philosophical shift as an umbrella, all encompassing, with all other instructional best practices underneath. Each district, building, and teacher can pick from those best practices to effectively deliver the information and create authentic educational experiences. Please bear with me and do the following short exercise to better understand the layout:
Draw an umbrella – feel free to get as creative as you feel the need to
On the umbrella write the words Quality Standard or 70% Minimum
Underneath the umbrella list as many Best Practices you can think of Or the best practice principles that your district subscribes too
Now the reason I had you do this was to create a basis for the philosophical shift as I use it. Regardless of the situation your classroom, district, county, whatever, understands that at the core of education is the idea that no student will achieve less than a 70% for the complete reason that it is describe as the minimum proficiency standard the student must obtain. At its core your organization or classroom fully believes that eliminating the chance for knowledge gaps in students is the only way to create authentic and long term learning in your students. The umbrella is an all encompassing principle that must appear in every mission and vision statement of your organization. Covered, protected, and kept safe are all the instructional principles of education. These principles like cooperative learning, differentiated instruction, just to name a couple, are the guiding practice to accomplish the philosophical shift. In order for students to learn (your umbrella) you must use these guiding principles (under the umbrella) as you see fit for the child.
So what does learning look like and what does learning sound like? The answer to those questions is what makes this so comfortable; it is different for every educator. The teacher must utilize their skills to determine what is to be learned. If the instructor is uncertain of what exactly the student must understand, then this could become much more difficult. As I found when I investigated the curriculum; the necessary knowledge is provided, the teacher must use their expertise (and I do mean expertise – if the teacher is not comfortable with being an expert find them a coach) to determine what that information looks like and sounds like. It is extremely important to mention that the only way this method will work is with a focus on the remediation. A student can take an assessment as many times as you want and they will eventually memorize the answer and meet the standard – successful grades are not the same as learning! Once the true art of teaching is instituted and the student is remediated well, the student will be successful on the assessment and learning will occur. It is within the remediation teaching that all students are held accountable for learning.