Thursday, December 5, 2013

Standards Are Important, But....

I was driving home from school yesterday and was reminiscing about my elementary school experience. Granted, it was a long time ago, but what I recalled sparked this post.  I am sure it was important that my teachers taught me certain things, and I would like to think that I have been somewhat successful in life as a result of those things they taught.  I learned to read, write, and do routine math without a calculator.

But do you know what I remembered on this drive home, and hopefully for the rest of my life?  I remembered the Letter People and our Friday marching band from Miss Mentzer's kindergarten class.  I remembered my first grade teacher, Sr. Anna Marie playing her little organ as we came in from recess and counted to 100 by 2, 5 and 10. I remember building the cardboard city in 2nd grade, having to pay a quarter if we sneezed three times in a row in 5th and 6th grade, and our pen pals from Wichita when I was in 8th grade.  You know what I don't remember? I do not remember a single worksheet, homework assignment, quiz or test.  I know I did them, but I do not recall any of them specifically.

I guess my point is this:  teaching the standards are important, and I am not suggesting we abandon doing so. However, do not be SO standards focused that you forget to create memorable, engaging experiences for your students.  Thirty years from now, those experiences are what they will truly remember.


  1. I completely agree!

    I remember watching caterpillars turn into butterflies in grade 2, singing a solo with my choir in front of my elementary school in grade 4, working on the yearbook in grade 6, singing a song about erosion to the tune of "Hit Me Baby, Once More Time" in grade 7, creating a life-sized boat outline on the floor of our grade 8 English class to help us understand "Life of Pi", and having huge arguments in grade 9 and 10 social studies while acting out signing treaties, elections, etc.

    I'm lucky that I don't have to teach "standards" at my school (even though it's technically "American"), but I still need to actively create these types of lasting memories for my students.

  2. I remember the cargoes city in third grade. Square dancing in third and fourth grade. My third grade teacher told us she would hang us by our toenails from the ceiling fan if we forgot 8x7, why? I have no idea but it worked, I have never forgotten 8x7.