Is it possible for teachers to meet standards without teaching in a standardized way? This question is at the heart of many educators. With standardized education and testing growing rapidly in higher education the temptation to teach to the test exists. How to teach the standards without becoming standardized.
Many educators say they are feeling pressure from management to teach the same things in an attempt to ensure strong test results. But that certainly isn’t how you inspire teachers to stay in education. It seems easier or safer to standardize instruction instead of trusting educators to engage and challenge students. What we are supposed to be teaching has become a political football. I think there is another way: teach beyond the test to this meaningful, creative work and you will get the test, and much more.
The standards are the learning goal, the ‘what’ of education. There are many approaches to how those standards are taught. When you empower students in that way in a standards-driven environment, you see amazing things.
A good thing about standards is that it provides a common language to talk about one another’s ideas.
1. Make the standards fit into student interests. My job as a teacher is to find how the standards fit what the students want to learn. Using students’ interests as the guide will prevent standardisation. Tap into the unique qualities of each student.
2. Teach students to question. When students develop effective questioning they become active partners in constructing learning. It gives them the opportunity to create meaning. Please encourage them to do so.
3. Focus on the skills and language of learning. When students can talk about their own learning, they can begin to make connections themselves. This can broadens the conversations beyond standards and moving towards authentic, individualized learning.
4. Be open to many answers. When educators focus on discovering how students know what they know, it gives students the opportunity to bring creative demonstrations of learning to the table.
5. Have authentic conversations about motivations. Many students have significant responsibilities outside of university that have made them skeptical about what university can do for them. Starting a conversation about why they are motivated to learn helps to get to know your students and can help to dispel the feeling that university exists in an alternate reality from life.
6. Share the many success stories. Creating a dialogue around the goal of a standard ‘what’ and multiple ‘hows’ can help more educators find the courage to see the power of education that celebrates the individual.