Sunday, March 13, 2016
Recently, I had the opportunity to visit with a school administrator. Understand at the outset, I was never the darling of the administrators that I worked under. So, it comes as no surprise to me that the conversation did nothing to change my opinion of administrators.
The topic of our conversation was one of the school’s programs that I felt was being poorly implemented because of lack of training. I had every confidence in the program itself if teachers simply had sufficient background in the procedures of the program, their purpose, and the research that supported the materials and routines.
The administrator’s response was predictable. Staff was “studying” all the school’s programs to see which programs teachers supported. After due study teachers would recommend which programs should be continued and which abandoned. Nowhere did I hear of any research into the effectiveness of the programs. Nothing was said about contacting experts, training, reading supporting research, or asking for presentations from representatives. To my credit, I remained passive.
Teachers are very busy people and so mired down in the “day to day” that it is the natural way of most programs over time that they get reduced to their “manageable” bare bones. Teachers seldom have time to read the research supporting new or even adopted programs. Over my years in the classroom, I’ve seen this time and again, particularly with math and science programs. And yet, it is precisely those materials which make clear the purpose of the prescript routines, their research bases, and the assumptions which underlie their choice.