By Don Allen, M. A. Ed./MAT
The Burning Bush…
Twin Cities, Minn…We have been playing this game the wrong way for decades while dealing bad hands to our most vulnerable populations – the at-risk, unprotected, psychologically, economically, physically, and emotionally attacked in Minnesota: Our children of color and middle-class whites.
We cannot go back to the old normal when the mass return-to-in-class (learning) happens. Many Minnesota Teacher Training programs are ill-equipped to unlearn and relearn what has now become a Modern Classroom system of checks, balance, harmony, and learning outcomes because they too, like K-12 education systems have not pushed the envelope, settling for mediocracy while bathing in pensive static, typically with no obvious cause (data-driven sentence). For the most part, the traditional curriculum focused on the teacher rather than the learner, but now – we have the opportunity to equip students with higher-level thinking skills by providing rigorous content with clear success criteria, such as rubrics that students use to identify strengths, mastery checks, and areas of growth when they self-assess using student-facing assessments. “If the structure does not permit dialogue the structure must be changed” (Freire); it’s time for the mass conversion to Blended Learning (Video, LMS, Google Docs, Zoom, Google Meet), Self-Paced Structures (Scaffold, Build it, let them climb one step at a time – but get them through it), and Mastery-Based Grading (Check on progress purposely, insert life-skills, check learning trajectories, make sure everyone learns, SPED, EBD) – our K-12 scholars deserve to learn and it’s our duty to serve. (Check out this Black History Literature Review Lesson Plan for “How Watermelons Became a Racist Trope” by William R. Black – December 8, 2014, The Atlanticfor grades 10-12 here.)
Like Moses, I too have seen the ‘burning bush’ and it manifested itself to me in the form of intellectual higher-order conversations with mentors and collaborations about how we find and use the best of what we have in us as teachers and share it with our scholars so they too will be able to navigate life’s challenges and rewards. It’s that simple – it’s the Modern Classroom Project.