Becoming more than ordinary
I just finished an hour-long webinar (Kappan Conversations: Beyond the Printed Page) with Steve Wolk about his article in the April Kappan, “What Should Students Read?” In this exceptional article, Steve challenges schools and teachers to get out of the rut of teaching the same books year after year. By broadening the literature that students read, he says teachers will bring immediacy and spontaneity to student learning.
During the webinar, Steve talked about his view that teaching is a profession that requires courage and creativity. Part of being a teacher is being willing to take risks on behalf of students. As he notes, most teachers have more freedom than they are willing to use to decide what books to teach and how to teach them. Rather than stretch and push against perceived barriers, they too often stick with bland textbooks and the tried-and-true classics.
“Teachers aren’t encouraged to take risks but part of being a professional is about taking risks,” he said. “If we wait for someone else to change our schools, our schools won’t change. Teachers have to change them.’’
He wrapped up our conversation by saying that he wishes teachers who do stretch beyond the ordinary would share their stories about their creative efforts.
Like Steve, I also want to hear those stories. So, I’ll throw out his challenge to you. What risk did you take this week to benefit your students? How did you connect a classic piece of literature to something from a newer genre? What new opportunity did you provide for your students because you believed they had the ability to learn something new? You can post those stories on the Kappan blog anytime. Maybe your one small step will encourage others to take their own step — or perhaps a leap.