March 25, 2009

Shop Class 101

So I had more to write about on my last blog but...well, frankly, you are more likely to read two shorter blogs than one long one, so I guess I got you good sucker! Anyway, is exciting. And I don't mean like sit around the table every now and then or drive in your car pool and talk about students collaboration...I mean like authentic, learning centered, high energy, task oriented collaboration. And I must admit...I am a bit selfish. Yes, this ejournalism project was a wonderful experience for "our" students (meaning all students involved, we became a team and those students involved became our students...see last blog for more). They were given an opportunity to connect with students from other school cultures, which was huge. But it was also a wonderful experience for me, as a teacher. I really enjoyed working with teachers that I do not normally work with. And sure, it helped that these teachers just happened to be energetic, enthusiastice and great at what they do. But equally as important was why we were working together. We had a reason to work together, and that reason was to ensure student success. And then it hit me, why don't we do this more often?

I don't just mean why don't we do projects like this more often, I mean why, as teachers, don't we work together more often for a reason? And this lead to a couple of discussions with a couple of my colleagues earlier today. There is no reason that we cannot get together and solve problems. Let's take rural education for example. It's no secret that rural schools lack resources. It would be nice to have a shop in every rural school in Saskatchewan, but let's face's probably not going to happen. Now, we can sit and complain about this and tell the division office that they need to give us a shop...or, we can get together with other rural schools and the division office and figure out how we can our give students "shop" skills. As my colleague and I were discussing this we started talking about what the outcomes would be - perhaps building shops in central and accessible locations; hey, we could even tier students - those who knew they wanted to enter the trades upon graduation could receive intensive programming and those that just wanted to dabble could recieve less extensive training. Boom, two teachers, standing in a hallway for 5 minutes had already started trying to figure out how we could solve this problem. Imagine what 20 or 50 teachers could accomplish. How long would it actually take to come up with real solutions? I think you know the answer. Then why aren't we doing it?

I guess sometimes it is just easier to complain and do nothing. And in the past I have been a culprit of this, but from now on I am going to try to be less of a culprit. And in the future I will probably be a culprit of this...but I will be conscience of it and hopefully wake the hell up. I have sat with other teachers and said things like "well, we have an attendance problem", or "other schools don't have our problems", or "our school is different". Well, let's be honest and call it like it is, this is all bullshit. It is just a way to complain, pass the buck, and not do anything about it. I was looking for someone else to solve problems that I did not know the answer to, and it's okay to not know the answer, but it is not okay to do nothing about it. We need to start realizing it is our responsibility to work together to solve any problems we may have. Take an issue I have hear a lot about: the division is supposedly cutting 1 teaching position per school for next year. Now, if we believe that this is not a good thing, we need to get together and discuss it...and come up with solutions. And let's realize something: an "us" vs. "them" mentality is harmful...we know this. The "division" is not against student learning. The "division" is not different from "us". We are all educators; we are all here to make sure all students learn and succeed. I guess I just realized that although I am a relatively new teacher, I had already slipped into a rut of thinking that certain problems were beyond my control...but in reality - they are not. All we need to do is collaborate in a meaningful way. Sure, there are things that we cannot change...but let's focus on the things we can.


  1. It is easier to blame others than to try and find a solution. We often say that we have solved the world's problems after sitting for a coffee. How often is that idle talk just complaining? Do we really try to find solutions? The other problem is that solutions are rarely easy. A solution implies doing something, something different than what we are already doing.

    If everything is working perfectly in your school then I guess you don't need solutions. If you don't need solutions then I guess you have nothing to complain about.

  2. Interesting. You're right, solutions aren't easy. It's easier to just complain...or just talk. We need to start doing.

  3. I don't beleive that only our school has problems or our school is different (HORSE SHIT)..if people actually talked to other teachers at other schools, they would find that we aren't so different then's not just us..the entire youth population is changing, whether it is for the better or for the worse, they are still our future and it's up to us and society in general to find new, creative and innovative ways to deal with the issues at hand...Unfortunately this involves changing our current beliefs and attitudes, which some people refuse to do, we've all seen it..So maybe we should start looking at ourselves first, before we start tackling bigger issues that require support and the will to change from everyone.

  4. Well said Carrie! And you raise an important issue - we do need to look at ourselves and our current attitudes, beliefs, etc... If we do not, there is no hope for change...if we refuse to change we are ultimately gambling with our students lives simply because of our selfishness - and that is not acceptable - and we should not let it be acceptable.