That sounds good, but. . .

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Let me begin by warning you that this is going to be a rant. It’s a rant about the naysayers — educators who interrupt every suggestion with “That sounds good, but. . . .”

It’s clear to all who know me that I teach in a progressive, student-centered classroom. This doesn’t make me unique; it just means I’m in the minority in the education world. I get that, and I’m doing all I can to encourage  more teachers to leave the traditional world and do what’s right by their students.

Many traditional teachers are willing to make the change. I get dozens of e-mails, tweets and comments on this blog weekly from teachers who share heartfelt stories about transforming their classrooms, as I did a few years ago.

Ah, but I digress. Back to the naysayers. I simply don’t understand why so many educators, who purportedly teach students to be open-minded, can’t even consider the possibility that there might be better strategies than homework, worksheets and tests.

No matter what research I quote or how much personal success I share, all too often, the response is, “That sounds good, but. . . .” Then comes an endless stream of excuses as to why they can’t abandon their traditional practices.

The conversation that garners the most “buts” is about feedback over grades. Ironically, I find many teachers who understand the deleterious effects of points and letter grades. The second I bring up replacing them with narrative feedback, though, I get, “That sounds good, but I don’t have the time;” or “That sounds good, but they won’t do it if I don’t grade it.”


My students never wonder about points or letters. They relish the feedback they receive. I know, because they actually thank me for it. Does feedback take time? Sure. If you’re afraid of work, I’d suggest a profession other than teaching.

So, as you can see, all of the “That sounds good, but. . .” is driving me crazy.

Any suggestions?

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Mark Barnes is the Founder of Times 10 Publications, which produces the popular Hack Learning Series -- books and other series that provide right-now solutions for teachers and learners. Mark is the author or publisher of dozens of books, including Bestseller Hacking Education: 10 Quick Fixes for Every School. Barnes presents internationally on assessment, connected education, and Hack Learning. Join more than 150,000 interested educators who follow @markbarnes19 on Twitter.

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