The One Thing Every Educator Should Do This Year

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Say No
photo credit: Marco40134 via photopin cc

Need a New Year’s Resolution? No problem. We’ve got the one thing every educator should do this year. One thing that is remarkably simple but can be extremely frightening. One thing that takes very little energy but incredible courage.

You may be thinking the one thing we might push is something on this list:

  • Eliminate traditional grades.
  • Stop assigning homework.
  • Instill a love of reading in every student.
  • Talk about learning with students.
  • Ignore meaningless mandates from administrators.

Sure, these are all important, but all of them require the one thing we can’t recommend enough. Take a moment and seriously consider what might happen if you make this one thing your New Year’s Resolution.

One thing teachers must do this year

Say No! Seriously, this is it.

Don’t say No to students–at least not often.

The one thing every educator must do this year is say No to bureaucrats. Say No to the publishing lobby. Say No to misguided administrators. Say No to parents, who demand bad practice. Say No to the That’s-the-way-we’ve-always-done-it mentality. Say No to quiet. Say No to order. Say No to failure.

The one thing you absolutely have to do this year is say No to anyone who asks you to teach to the test. The research is against most test preparation, suggesting that it very rarely contributes to increased test scores.

Say No to the workbooks and worksheets that bore students by asking them to fill in blanks and circle choices. These mundane pencil-and-paper activities are uninspiring and discourage learning.

Say No to summative assessment and traditional grades. Learning can’t be measured, like it’s a piece of drywall. The only way to truly understand learning is to talk to students about it.

Say No to the Common Core. Sure, this is difficult, but you are creative enough to work around it and build a wonderful student-centered classroom.

What could be easier? This is the one thing that anyone can do. Still, far too many educators have been doing things the same way for so long that they struggle to say No to old-school practice and to say Yes to 21st-century teaching and learning.

Before you balk at this one thing. Consider the beauty of it. Consider how this one thing might change everything.

It’s one word. It’s one syllable. And saying No is not only easy; it’s invigorating.

If you do one thing this year, say No.

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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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