Sunday, February 13, 2011

Do not disturb: Teaching and learning in progress

A teacher at my school co-opted one of those ubiquitous door signs that any high school teacher will recognize. The unadulterated sign is to be placed on the door of any classroom being used for No Child Left Behind-era, state-mandated testing. This particular design was used for the recently administered California High School Exit Exam.

It cracked me up, but it also reminded me of some issues worthy of consideration. Opinions may vary; these are mine.

The presence of the sign during mandated state testing alerts potential classroom "intruders" (students delivering notes and summonses from school offices) that something special is going on behind the door. So special it is not to be interrupted.

That distinguishes it from the human warehousing that must be the usual activity behind that door. It presumes a level of pointlessness of typical classroom activity, a level that welcomes interruptions as breaks to the monotony.

Another colleague is reluctantly resigned to regard regular classroom as holding students in accessible spaces until someone of importance needs them. Nothing could ever be going on in a classroom that's so important a student would suffer from being pulled out of it.

What does the teacher in the classroom behind that sign think of the importance of state testing vs. classroom instruction? I think the sign modifications speak plainly.

What audacity to imagine teaching and learning are so important to merit uninterrupted time. Teaching and learning on the same level of priority as Testing? Sheer madness!

No comments: