Bringing Passion Back to Teaching

Nearly every teacher I talk with these days expresses how sad it is that our education initiatives, created in the for the purpose of improvement, leave them questioning their decision to enter the profession. Teachers, once passionate about the profession they love, now find is burdensome and dull. I hear so often the phrase, “I miss being able to really teach!”

The onerous mandates, new requirements, teacher evaluation and uninspiring training around standards and assessments are wearing out teachers - extinguishing their passion. There is no question the teachers deserve feedback and evaluation. Further, standards and benchmark assessments provide helpful measures of progress. However, the top-down approach of implementation of these requirements, coupled with the extensively analytic and detailed teaching rubrics are dulling the once proud profession of teaching. Particularly in a slow growth economy, teachers are very concerned about maintaining and retaining their jobs and now focus on the behaviors they need to get a high evaluation score. There are almost too many “correct” teaching tasks and we have created a paralysis of teaching due to our over analysis of the profession. Teachers are too often trying to avoid mistakes rather than inspiring joy and excitement in their classroom. Teaching is challenging and professional teachers need to make hundreds of adjustments every day seeking a way to develop student growth and understanding.

I've had the opportunity to visit thousands of great classrooms and seen great teachers with excited and engaged students. I have been inspired by popular authors that remind us about what’s most important to learn and how best to learn those skills in this rapidly changing technologically driven society. There is no question that the generation of young people in school will face even more daunting challenges and problems in the decades ahead. For many reasons, we need to better prepare students in our education system.

I've attempted to weave together the best ideas about what’s important to learn and more importantly how best to teach that to create an exciting classroom through a new instructional model. The Career Instructional Model reflects what I have learned about how best to teach in a way that inspires teachers and students. The six elements in this model provides a simple framework for teachers to remember and how to move their classroom into the passionate exciting environment that our students deserve.

Here is a web
link to a video cast which summarizes how this model is created.

The name CAREER is actually an acronym of the first letters of each element as a convenient way to remember. The six elements of this model are:

  • Connect with relevance - Relevant learning experiences show students the purpose of learning and is more likely to stimulate motivation and engagement.
  • Assess for proficiency - Students need to objectively measure their progress toward proficiency, receive constructive feedback and avoid playing “ grade games.”
  • Reward creativity and innovation - The challenges of the 21st Century demand students begin to develop creative skills in school.
  • Engage students as independent learners - Every student is different and teachers need to facilitate personalized learning that engages students and nurture their desire to be lifelong learners.
  • Empower with hope and confidence - Students can make a difference in the world and need to recognize that learning releases their talents.
  • Rate work habits and collaborative behaviors - Future success is not determine by what you know but how you use your knowledge; personal skills and collaboration are key.

To help teachers think about these elements and reflect about their own practice, we have created six surveys for teachers to think about these elements and practices in their classroom. Here is a
link to the survey’s which are currently being developed in the Career Readiness Institute supported by the Successful Practices Network.

Join me in sharing examples of great teaching consistent with the Career Model using the twitter address @CAREER_Model.

Teachers should keep these elements in mind. Continually reflect on their practice. Challenge students to take responsibility for their learning rather than being the passive participants in teacher performances. It is time to inspire great teaching rather than manage compliance to a long list of analytical pedagogical practices.