The Olympics only happen once every four years (sort of). And it's only for a limited time. And it's all about celebrating our country's achievements. But I need some clarification around what to do in class during this pivotal period of time in our history. All week, I've been negotiating with kids watching on their phones while I tried to teach. One student astutely pointed out, "They have it on all the TV screens in the school, so they obviously want us to watch it."
But what is disconcerting about the board's view, and of many schools' practice of showing the Olympics in auditoriums, is how contrary it is to everything else we're being told this year. Aye, there's the rub.
Shortly after reading the board's blessing, I replied with this tweet, tongue-in-cheek (couldn't copy and paste it as a tweet for some reason):
"I'm struggling to determine my learning goals for this activity as reflective of the essential learnings tied to my curriculum."And then I swiftly deleted it. People love the Olympics, and how dare I bring opposition onto the floor, particularly in a forum frequented by students hoping for a snow day and, at the very least, looking forward to an afternoon of passive viewing - a group, I hasten to add, who used many nasty words and threats when the board chose to keep school open on a very cold day this year.
But I maintain the sentiment. Since September, we have been directed towards an approach to learning that must now overtly and clearly link everything we do in class to the curriculum. There's no more room to go off on student-directed tangents until they run their course. As I understand it - and my understanding of it shifts regularly - we are required to determine how best to evaluate student understanding of essential learnings based on each course's individual curriculum documents, then provide transparent learning goals daily (or close to daily) to help the students understand why and how they will reach the final target of satisfying the curriculum requirements. For my purposes, it means if I have a class that is going to town on discrimination issues, we can't just take an extra week or two to do more exploration on it because then we won't have sufficient time to cover the rest of the learning expectations for the course. And covered they must be or else no students, technically and officially, will have passed the course.
I'm getting on board with the more stringent approach, but how do the Olympics fit in here? For some courses, it's an easy curricular tie-in. Not mine. Maybe I could fudge something but is that what the board is hoping we'll do? Or are the AER rules out the window when it's convenient for them. Or does school spirit trump AER? I hope it does. And I hope this series of tweets from the board office is an indication that we can all relax and not fret so when the AER-police drop in, as is expected, to ask our students what the learning goals and success criterion are for my specific lesson today.
It's a shame they didn't drop by this afternoon!