Do Scripted Programs Zap The Passion Out Of Teachers

Austine Etcheverry Uncategorized

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Storytime At School

Going on walkthroughs in teacher’s classrooms gives you only a snapshot of what students are learning on any given day, but upon some recent walkthroughs, I realized this snapshot was showing me something else. The learning in classrooms seemed to lack teacher enthusiasm and passion, and students seemed to be dozing, and while they were not misbehaving, they also did not demonstrate a love of learning.

I wondered if it was because we were in the room? Maybe they were nervous, but then I began to wonder, is it because the teachers whose classrooms we walked into were teaching from a scripted program? Is the scripted content so boring the teacher can’t find the excitement in it?

This has me seriously worried about the state of education, because around the United States curriculum with lessons that help guide a teacher and are attached to the standards are utilized to help ensure all students are learning the necessary content for the grade they are in. I believe wholeheartedly the complex nature of a topic decreases when a teacher is creating a lesson on their own, but at the same time, teaching without passion is like eating at a restaurant you hate day in and day out. You drudge up to the counter, order your meal, only to be disappointed time and time again when you sit down.

Scripted program or not, students can have discussions around the topics taught. The teacher can look at the lesson or the script, and build in questions to expand on students’ learning, thus increasing not only the complexity of the learning, but also increasing the students’ understanding and excitement around the topic.

I have seen classrooms where the teacher has taken a math problem, paired up the students and had each group use a different method to solve the problem. Once the group was done, they were to go and teach another group. While this action was not a part of the script, the teacher analyzed student learning, decided it would meet the needs of her students and ran with it.

So, what is different between the scripted programs and the teacher’s content? Why are scripted programs stifling for some and give others the power to succeed beyond the script? And how can we help our teachers to fall in love with teaching and reconnect with the learning if they feel stuck in a curriculum?

For starters let’s give them permission to open up the lesson and make decisions not from the script, but based on whom the students are sitting in front of them. Allow the curriculum to guide the pathway and the teacher to plan the journey. As administrators it is absolutely essential, I think, to begin having these difficult conversations, because teachers deserve an opportunity to fall in love with teaching again and students deserve to enter a classroom and have a world open to them that a few short minutes before they didn’t know they were going to get to be a part of.

Our job is not to force feed students learning material until their eyes glaze over, it is to fill their buckets with the joy of learning content they had once not known. Education is the door that opens up other doors, and teachers are the catalyst for that.

 

I started my educational career as a 1:1 paraprofessional for a student who was blind and had a severe cognitive impairment. After this amazing opportunity, I decided teaching was my passion. In 2007 I became a certified special education teacher and taught 5th – 8th grade resource. Throughout my career in education, I have held various leadership roles such as a technology coach, an exceptional needs coach and an IEP coordinator. Three years ago, I decided to begin pursuing my National Board Certification and was fortunate enough to achieve in December 2018. I currently have the privilege of being the principal in the Avondale Elementary School District at a school for students with an emotional disability. I have my own social media company where I write and create dental blogs. I have also had the honor of publishing articles in a dental magazine as well as published a young adult science fiction series. In December 2018, I became a certified yoga instructor and am currently working on the completion of my Doctorate in Education Leadership and Administration.

  • Mrs_Buzan

    Ahhh, this topic is so important to me. Probably 40% of my blogs are about burn-out, particularly the sheer amount of work teachers spend creating, analyzing, revising, and delivering content. It’s such an exhausting task, but it’s ironically the marathon of my creative passion. I wish the system was better designed so I had more time to do it, but I’ve often secretly worried that my readers will think “right, okay, too much work? Just turn to the textbook and hush”. I’ve seen these scripted curriculums myself and they are spooky. Your dinner analogy is spot on– highlighted more so by the panel of observers, it’s like being watched while you eat. This is a great piece.

    • Austine Etcheverry

      I’m glad that you enjoyed it and could relate. I do believe this is something that many teachers really struggle with.