Brick Walls In The Career…Right Now…Part One.

This evening I began putting some ideas into thought as to why I feel knocked down and somewhat weakened in my chosen profession at the moment. This is my chosen career, my passion…but right now I have big questions and genuine concerns. I have collated my Posterous entry, contribution to the PLP ConnectU Ning and reply from Chad J Evans to start my extraction.


This is such an important discussion. I’m going through a phase at my school right now where this conversation is relevant…even though the school where I work is doing a lot of pretty cool things here and there.

A take on the response to the idea of ‘unlearning’…    in direct reply to  @willrich45    @kynanr

I really hear what Kynan is talking about.  Writing is the one subject area that makes me wonder. How can we expect kids to be engaged if they are not given ample opportunity to write for a genuine audience? I’ve found this year that I have to change topic, authorial focus, content, etc etc….so much that my students do not get a chance to sink their teeth into some writing that they can work hard on and publish to a place where there is an audience waiting for them. I’ve had glimpses over the years of this but it is never an ongoing.

Practising persuasive texts for the NAPLAN tests was a perfect example. I thought to myself…what a fine opportunity to dig into some ‘meaty’ topics and get the kids passionate about their point of view. Yet I had to keep practising more and more, one text after another. The kids didn’t have a chance to publish to an audience.

Why do we have to cram so much in? This is what we could unlearn? Why can’t we NOT be afraid of lingering on a project or piece of writing for awhile so the kids can lap it up, go over it carefully and surely and get it out there for those to see?

These two examples are some of the only real writing projects that I think went all the way. I’ve been in the job six years and this is what I recall instantly…

Reply from Chad J Evans…


Why do we have to cram so much in? This is what we could unlearn? Why can’t we NOT be afraid of lingering on a project or piece of writing for awhile so the kids can lap it up, go over it carefully and surely and get it out there for those to see? I see these as really important questions.  I just had a conversation with a colleague this morning surrounding the curricular choices we all make every year and how even though we often feel like we don’t have the flexibility to make those kinds of decisions, we make them often. However, we feel comfortable making the little choices, yet not the big ones regarding student learning and the ability of learners to immerse themselves…

I’m wondering how we go about having those difficult conversations with ourselves, with our colleagues, and with our supervisors and what those conversations might look like and feel like?

Posterous entry  - 18.5.11

Posterous entry - 18.5.11

I realised today that education is always evolving…but really. Yes I can already hear you saying ‘get with it, that’s been the case for at least the last ten years.’ But this evening I’ve been pondering the concept of ‘unlearning.’ It is a theory that’s been discussed but I think this concept may take a new avenue for me soon… maybe others. I only get glimpses of what I could really achieve with my students at the moment. In between, I have to make sure I am planning, thinking and talking about the numbers, the process and the end marker. There is not enough time. It nails us, knocks us down, sows the seeds of doubt. I don’t want to short change my students. Controversial but demoralising.

2 thoughts on “Brick Walls In The Career…Right Now…Part One.

  1. Hi Rick,
    Yet another interesting post! I love that you have taken the time to translate what could quite easily turn into a few frustrated conversations at a school level, and turned it into a thought provoking and constructive post!
    I see where you are coming from and I have often thought the same thing. How on earth do we get everything done, and still make time for the kids to actually do some real learning as opposed to just skimming the surface.
    Of late I have been doing quite a bit of thinking about where this ‘pressure’ to cram really comes from. I’m unsure of the exact answer to this question, but I have a feeling it is as much ‘our’ problem as it is that of the curriculum or the leaders. I guess what I’m getting at is… What would happen if you did make the big decisions about your students learning, defend these decisions and take charge of the experiences you share with your students? Would you be a) shot down in flames, b) congratulated or c) not even noticed?
    I say work out where the road blocks are to doing what you have described and have a crack. In all honesty, I think you will be supported all the way. Or am I being overly optimistic?

    I really believe that without well understood and regularly reviewed data we are shooting fish in a barrel so to speak. Sometimes what we do may hit the mark and other times, not so much! So I don’t see the data as the issue. It’s the way it’s used. Is it used to support decisions about student learning at a classroom level, or is it just used to drive the ‘whole school next level of work’ with little or no consideration for the individuals that sit in our classes.

    I’m sure that I have asked more questions than I have ‘answered’. A great topic. I look forward to reading responses from other readers!

  2. Nice post 🙂
    Rick, this can only be a quick response because like you I’m hella busy. As you know, I’m in your boat, I share your frustrations, you’re not alone.

    I love how you talk about glimpses. It is the exact language i use on my mie wiki and it is that magic we need to capture. Paradigm shifts have to be slow, otherwise they are just fads. I have been catching glimpses (some involving the collaboration we have begun) and shouting these glimpses of true learning to anyone who will listen. 
    People have approached me to say what a great job I am doing and I feel like a fraud. Simply because these ‘glimpses’ don’t happen often enough. I worry people think my class is a magical place all the time. It’s not.

    It is heartening to know that people are beginning to replicate our glimpses, the glimpses are catching on! I think your persuasive argument glimpse is great and luckily that is the genre that my kids are arbitrarily doing this term.

    Naplan, national standards, they will come and go. The Glimpses are what the kids will remember. Focus on the good stuff, talk only about the good stuff (just as we praise only positive behavior – don’t give the crap any extra press or your precious time!)

    Think of the impact you have on the hundreds of children you have by sharing these glimmers of true learning. 

    I’m looking forward to reading about your next glimpse (whatever that may be) and I hope that I can be inspired by it, if not a part of it 🙂

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