Maybe Teachers Do Have the Power to Change the World

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What if teachers were to stop saying, “This won’t work because we’re accountable to administrators, parents, and the bureaucracy”? What if teachers had the power to change the world, from the comfortable confines of their classrooms, and neither administrators nor bureaucrats could do anything about it?

I want teachers to eliminate traditional grades, homework and teach-to-the-test practices. I want numbers, percentages, letter grades, report cards and the GPA to vanish, and I know this can and will happen in time.

The only reason these outdated practices haven’t gone the way of the one-room schoolhouse already is fear.

Teachers tell me almost daily that they are accountable to principals and to the bureaucracy, so they can’t teach and assess like they want. But what if they can?

It’s time for teachers to ignore ridiculous mandates and do what is best for students. It’s time for teachers to step up and to change the world.

In a recent conversation about eliminating grades on the TTOG Facebook group, someone suggested that administrators won’t allow alternative assessment.

Is it something that teachers really have a choice about? Sounds like you have to appeal to administration more. . . tighter controls are looming on the horizon- not loosening…not yet.TTOG Member

Another friend of mine worried privately that her school district is so “tied to grades,” that making change seems impossible.

What if this worry is unwarranted? What if educators realize that they, not administrators and not politicians, have all of the power?

You can do anything in your classroom, and no principal can stop you, as long as you live by this mantra: “I’m going to do what’s best for kids.” How can anyone argue with this? I have explained my own progressive teaching models to parents, telling them “It’s what’s best for your child,” and they love it. When my administrators learned that I had parents on my side, they suddenly became interested in what was happening in my classroom. When my students outperformed the rest of the school on the year-end test, they didn’t care how I taught. 

Consider always doing what’s best for kids. Make your students independent, self-evaluative learners, and they’ll perform beautifully in all areas.

Ask yourself, “What if this is possible? What if I have the power to change the world?” 

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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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