As the new year gets going for teachers so does the anxiety of teachers to get everything they need to teach to students taught for the state exams. The anxiety teachers feel is real. Knowing you have to be on pace to get the required material in before the test can and is overwhelming.
With that being the case, and one that probably won’t change for some time, I began to wonder: are we killing creativity in our students, and in our teachers?
For many teachers long projects on a few topics isn’t something that will work. Instead they will do some projects that last just a day or two, and most likely don’t have the depth or complexity they would like due to time constraints.
All teachers want their students to succeed, but they also know they have to get the scores of their students up for their school, and their district. They don’t want to be “that teacher” that has the lowest scores in their building or on their team. They don’t want to be seen as not pulling their weight.
When teachers only focus on only struggling students they are missing a lot of students who could use more challenge in the classroom. I am not saying that focusing on struggling students isn’t the wrong thing to do. It is wrong when you don’t focus any of your expertise to the average and above average students. Those students aren’t getting the challenge and complexity to push them to do better on their exams.
I am not saying that I have the answers. I don’t. Each class and teacher are different. Its the idea behind the State mandated testing that is the same for everyone.
As teachers focus on test material, students aren’t getting the complexity or depth they need or deserve. The state tests aren’t about creativity. They are about showing what you know on a given day.
For many students, they aren’t analytical or mathematical. They more of the “Right Brain” type of person than “Left Brain”. We need to give these students and many other students the chance to be creative. We need allow students to use their imaginations, critical thinking and reasoning skills to be prepared for life beyond the test. We need to challenge our students to use their hands, minds, and each other. Life isn’t all about what is on a standardized test.
Students need to have hands on activities, labs, field trips, project based learning, and passion projects to be challenged. Students need to have freedom to express themselves in writing and orally. They need to be challenged to analyze and evaluate data, writing samples, and opinions from others. Students need to be challenged to use technology, social media, coding, circuitry, and engineering principles to learn new and exciting things.
In summation, I hope teachers don’t get overwhelmed with the idea that Standardized tests scores determines if they are a good teacher or not. In the long run, students will remember the awesome labs, dissections, and field trips not the awesome test questions you prepared for them to help them on their standardized test. Do as many activities as you can that allow students to use their imagination, creativity, and critical thinking skills. Give time for play and creativity in your classroom.