school reform 101

Image: aafad 38/365 the name is lom… by lamont_cranston made available by a creative commons license on flickr.

I just read an article by accident, on addressing the issue of racism in school, because I was looking for a different article in the March 2003 issue of Phi Delta Kappan. That one wasn’t available but this one, Ending the Silence by Donna M. Marriott, is. The title intrigued me, and this bit yelled out to me:

classroom teachers are the only real agents of school reform. It is teachers who translate policy into action; who integrate the complex components of standards, curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment into comprehensible and pragmatic instruction; and who balance an ever-changing array of political, economic, social, and educational factors while trying to meet the individual needs of children.

That first line in particular screams truth. In order for us to create vibrant, learning-rich, successful classroom communities we need to start with teachers. Too often teachers are handed new sets of guidelines called reform that they are expected to carry out. Very often they fall flat. They have no meaning for anyone beyond the policy-makers who crafted them.

If teachers were involved in a process to improve their classrooms for the success of those in it – in a process that reached out to their values as teachers and as people, then there will be true reform.

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