Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Compliance or Competency: What’s Important?

Readers Workshop
 August brings a new school year, new teachers, new grade levels, new administration, new curriculum, and new students. The first weeks are a rush of planning, prepping, and establishing rituals and routines. After being in school for a few weeks the dust begins to settle and schools settle in for the hard work ahead.

Walking into the classroom there are expectations set at every school for the way of work. Some schools call them “non-negotiables” while others discuss “culture and traditions”, but whatever they are called, they all set the standard teachers are expected to reach in their teaching.

Some of these expectations are easy to reach: bulletin boards done a certain way, standards posted in a consistent format, even walking in the hall with students. Simple compliance to the expectation is easily attainable.

Competency, however, is more difficult. For instance, just the compliance of posting standards for the students is easy. Understanding the standard and designing an engaging lesson for students requires a level of competency that requires deeper work from the teacher. When establishing rituals and routines at the beginning of the year, teachers are asked to record, or chart, the student thinking. This important groundwork sets the stage for how the classroom will run for the rest of the year.

Understanding why these lessons are important will help take the level of teaching from simply complying with expectations to a deeper competency, benefiting both the teacher and students in the long run. In the end, isn’t that what’s really important?