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Dr. Joanne Meier

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Hold me accountable. But let me do it my way.

November 16, 2010

Hold me accountable. But let me do it my way.

That's one powerful line from a guest post written by fifth-grade teacher Lisa Parisi of Lisa's Lingo. at The Answer Sheet from the Washington Post.

Lisa wrote a compelling post, describing herself as a teacher and a learner, and one who seeks change. And she's seen plenty of it during her 25 years as a teacher. She's watched Whole Language, Lesson Study, Math Their Way, Orton-Gillingham, and other programs and philosophies come and go. Acknowledging that each one has its benefits, she also feels that so far, nothing has been able to reach everyone.

The dilemma she faces now, the one that has her pondering retirement, is the constraint of a lock-step literacy program whose implementation leaves no room for change. "I must coordinate with the other fifth-grade teachers, doing what they are doing, when they are doing it, and I must keep the format of mini-lesson, partner work, individual work with conferring, and ending mini-lesson."

Lisa's frustration is almost identical to that of a third-grade teacher I recently spoke with. This teacher was expressing very similar irritation with a writing program newly adopted by her school. The implementation leaves no time for follow-up, for reteaching, or for circling back around to something that really worked.

I understand the importance of fidelity of implementation, but when it stands in the way of teachers who know how and when to do something differently, I think there should be some flexibility. Who should we trust more to know when an instructional decision needs to be made: curriculum developers or teachers?

Comments

Just starting my 26th year of teaching. I totally agree with Lisa Lingo's comment regarding "hold me accountable but let me get there my way." Each teacher has differenct background experiences that he/she should be able to use while teaching. Just as all students are not alike - neither are all teachers and we should each be able to use our strengths to teach our students. Yes, hold me accountable BUT don't make me be on p. 17 of my math book because that's where my coworkers are!!!! Let me work with my students and teach and reteach at the pace they need to be taught!!!

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"Today a reader, tomorrow a leader." — Margaret Fuller