It's Time To Do The Dishes

I have spent this summer, as I do every summer since becoming an educator, learning. I have expanded my learning by attending conferences, reading, attending edcamps, and having some really thought provoking conversations. Inevitably in every conference or conversation the notion of teachers' plates being full and not wanting to add anything to those plates arises.

Original work "Korean BBQ Platter" by Pelican
I agree that there is a lot being put on teachers at this time in education. I do not want to make things harder for teachers. I have in the past viewed my role as an instructional coach as helping teachers to balance their plates. I couldn't fix their plates, but I felt like I could help make things easier for them. I know that teachers have done a lot of rearranging and prioritizing of things to try and make their plates work.

Frankly, I'm just tired of talking about full plates. I think it's time to do the dishes. Clear them off completely.

Once our educator plates are completely clear and the dishwasher is running we need to have a serious conversation. We need to ask ourselves what we want learning to look like in our schools. Before we add anything to the plate we need to seriously consider wether each thing we add is in the best interest of students. We also need to make sure that the things that we add are a balanced, meeting the needs of the whole student. To extend the metaphor think of it like putting together a meal, you want a variety of healthy foods.

I think that the most frustrating part about this whole scenario is probably that the teachers don't have full control over their plates and can't really clear them. (Kind of like when your mom told you when you were little that you couldn't get up from the table unless you finished your peas.) Yes they can do a lot to clear it, but really it's administrators, district leaders, state and national departments of education that really need to do the clearing of the education plate as a whole. Leaders need to show teachers that they value this in both their actions and their words. Leaders need to realize that some of the mandates and requirements aren't in the best interest of our students and that when we overwhelm teachers with those things they can't focus on what is really important. Leaders need to give teachers "permission" to clear their plate and support them in rebuilding a balanced meal centered around the most important part of our education system, our students.

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