Seth Godin has a good blog post on change. He starts by discussing the demise of Word Perfect as the word processor of choice and moves to the time when a choice has to be made. To quote Seth Godin: “Do nothing is the choice of people who are afraid. Do nothing is what you do if too many people have to agree. Do nothing is what happens if one person with no upside has to accept downside responsibility for a change. What’s in it for them to do anything? So they do nothing.”
This reverberates with me because of the program I am now coordinating grew stagnant during the previous coordinators final years. She was a fantastic teacher and leader, but she got to the point where change meant creating more work for her. Consequently, tests that worked went unchanged.
Last week I gave the final exam in the reading class I was teaching. We use a standard group of tests semester after semester. In this case, the final was 20 percent on fact and opinion, which I had just touched on because it wasn’t highlighted in the schedule and several questions on relationships within and between sentences, which I did not teach because it wasn’t in the book nor was there any indication it was important. The teacher who had taught the class had worked around the schedule, which I make off of a template, and never brought these problems to my attention. She simply worked around them, masterfully. However, she left to take a job in Russia leaving me caught flat footed. The test must have matched up to the content and textbook when it was created who knows how long ago.
Now, I have another project for the summer. The experience leads me to feel even more urgency to create some type of curriculum that lays out what we teach. Presently, our program consists of experienced teachers, some of whom have been at the school longer than I have. However, some day we will have new teachers who will need more guidance.
Finally, I will work to embrace principled and needed change.