I will change roles next year. I will now be responsible for the school’s Middle School (grades seven and eight). The other day I went around talking to each Middle School teacher sharing a little bit about myself, my beliefs and some initial thoughts on my vision of where I see our school going. I prepared every teacher for the fact that I will be continually asking “why?” and I invite and encourage them to do the same of me. It is not that I necessarily believe we are doing something wrong, but I will always want to know the purpose and challenge if there are other more effective methods to reach the goal of doing what is best for students.
As I sat with a couple of young teachers, I noticed a stack of traditional final exams, all the same, photocopied and ready to be handed out to grade seven students for a timed test. I asked why? What ensued was a great conversation. No one in the room truly felt that these final exams were the best way for students to demonstrate what they have learned, so why are we still doing it?
I confessed that I have many whys. Why do we still have parent-teacher conferences that often don’t even involve the student? Why do we celebrate academic achievement in such way that honours only those who have reached a certain percentage and a way that ranks students? Why do we make decisions without consulting students?
What’s your why question?