Lately, it seems like that word has been front in center in my work life.  I could also argue that it is also in private life, but I will focus on how it impact teaching.

Last week, we shared an article with our teacher leaders about the SCARF model of motivation by David Rock.  As we were talking about all of them, the A for Autonomy stuck with me.  It brought how the work world has changed and how team work is valued in the business world.  Also at EdCampIowa we had a session on Autonomy vs Systems of Learning.  I think this topic will continue to bubble to the surface because of the public vision of teaching.

Think about it.  How many teaching movies can you name? Now mark out the ones where it is a lone charismatic teacher against the system.  Do you have any left?  I didn’t have any on my list.  Think about the not so recent past of the narrative of one room school house.  This lone teacher narrative is the one society portrays.

On the other hand, the other narrative that can come out is that the teacher needs to be controlled and the curriculum needs to be teacher proofed.  Just read some of the headlines around the country.

Both of these narratives do more harm than good.  I propose that it is time for a shift.  We need each other to be the best teacher we can be.  In his article, David Rock suggested that people will give up their some of their autonomy because they receive other rewards.  I will give up my some of my  autonomy to work with other teachers.  I know that I will gain status because my work will improve and gain a sense of community because I worked others.   All in all it is time for Hollywood to make a movie about a school that comes together to help all students learn.


Hero of the Month

On Thursday evening, I drive my son to soccer.  It’s becoming my favorite day of the week because of the conversations we have.  For example this week’s topic was First Friday.  He discussed all of the ins and outs what happens.  Then the conversation drifted to who would be the Hero of the Month.  He discussed that the hero got to eat pancakes, have their photo taken and have the whole school  hear about how good they are.  My son in a sad voice said, “I hope I am the Hero.”   I replied, “I hope you are too, bud.”  After that I asked how do you get to be the Hero.  My son just said you have to be really good.  I also prompted him to ask his teacher what could he do to be the Hero.    He replied,  “I wouldn’t want to do that it might take away from a friend who was working hard too.”

I bring this up because I became nervous about my role in these moments in the car of other parents.  Did they have the same reaction I did or did they blow it off?  Consider these questions:

  • Are your teachers using the same standard for selecting the students?
  • Can your students articulate how they can achieve this award?
  • Do students who do not achieve this award given feedback?

I would have never considered how the award impacts the other students.  It is important to highlight outstanding students, but we need to be sure that the answer is Yes to the questions above.

So Friday has come and gone.  My Little Man was not the Hero of the Month, but he is the Hero of our House.