To kick off the beginning of the new semester, my school district invited Dr. Michael Schmoker to speak to a group of administrators, principals, instructional coaches and campus leaders. I had the privilege of attending.
I must admit that previous to this event I did not know who Dr. Schmoker was, but I was pleasantly surprised by his perspective. I’ve sat through my fair share of in-services and presentations of information and strategies and fad practices that did not apply to me as a life skills teacher of non-content areas whatsoever. So when he started talking about simplifying and de-fluffing public education, I was sold.
Seated directly next to me was my campus principal whom I have come to greatly admire and have spent a great deal of time with this year conducting interviews (that saga was detailed in previous posts).
Throughout the presentation, Dr. Schmoker would propose a question and ask us to take 30 seconds to discuss the question with the person next to us. I enjoyed hearing my principal’s perspectives and being validated by him for mine. He even paid me a genuine compliment at some point for being a prime example of knowing how to keep lessons direct and simple, which is a necessity in our line of work.
Most importantly though, I appreciated the essential message that Dr. Schmoker was promoting. Now this is certainly in my own words and not the exact words that came out of his mouth, but his message was that public education needs to be simplified and de-fluffed. The Common Core and the TEKS of Texas are ridiculous and non-sensical. Education needs to be brought back to the essentials – reading, writing and discussion. Those three are the absolute best ways to teach students, and through those they can learn anything.
Dwell on that for a minute. Not building dioramas, not making posters, not Pinterest pretty projects, not fancy cooperative learning strategies – just reading, writing and discussion. In line with that, what are the most effective ways to introduce new information? Textbooks and lecture. What are the things that most teachers spend the least time doing? Reading, writing, discussion, textbooks and lecture.