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Oh boy! I read something that struck a nerve because it’s what happens when people think they can legislate something impractical.
Let me explain. The Washington Post notes that in the interests of transparency, 17 states are considering bills to legislate that teachers post ALL instructional materials online ahead of time.
As we know, many teachers post lesson plans and resources online already, including copies of their teaching materials and notes.
And most school districts have curriculum guides that are accessible online. Also, parents are generally welcome in classrooms to observe and principals, and others often stop by to observe.
These bills ask teachers to post the information a year ahead of time in some cases. Yes, a year ahead of time. In other cases, teachers can post lessons after the fact to allow for more spontaneous discussions, and they can amend the lessons they have posted with updated resources.
Asking already busy teachers to post exactly what they’ll be teaching makes me wonder, though. What if I finish the school year in June, assuming I know which students will be in my classes, and when I return in August, I find I may have additional students whom I don’t know?
In January, we sometimes get new students who come from Central or South America when their school year ends in December.
No matter the topic, English Language Arts, Math, Social Studies, or Science, I may need to re-teach. I can’t predict when I’ll have to re-teach a topic.
And there may be times when I throw out my plans at the request of the students because it’s what the students need. The day after the shootings at Virginia Tech, my high school English students wanted to discuss the event. They led a thoughtful, nuanced conversation exploring the topic. They needed that conversation, and they needed to share their views. I could never have predicted that months earlier.
I have been in schools where a student has died. Our students need us to be there for them and to hold space for them.
I won’t be able to do my job as a teacher if I have to stick to a plan I created months before I knew who was going to be in my classroom.
Given that the curricular information is available online and parents are welcome to visit classrooms and observe, asking teachers to share their lesson plans in advance seems like one more hoop through which educators must jump.
Most educators are willing to meet with parents and are available - but please, let us do our jobs. And sometimes, that job involves responding to events as they happen and helping our students process their feelings.
I might be able to post lesson plans a week in advance - maybe - barring wars and other tragic events, but I can’t see posting plans so far in advance without knowing who will be in my classroom. While posting lessons after the fact is reasonable and updating the class with additional resources, it’s still a burden on teachers who also have to plan, teach, and carry out all the other things that teachers do.
What could teachers give up to do this? Grading? Standardized testing? Could this be done within a school duty day? It would take extra time to post lessons online and update the information.
It just doesn’t seem equitable.
How do you feel about this?
I’d love to hear your thoughts,
Every Friday you can expect a small and informative message from the Leading Equity Center. The Weekend Voice is meant to challenge your thoughts of education today and to provoke you to take action in your schools.