Isabel Detienne

Imagine an education system where students felt fully comfortable, respected, and were constantly encouraged to reach their full potential. Although this is a very achievable goal, it will take time and a lot of revolutionary movements. The ideal education would assess students in multiple ways, incorporate both online and classroom lessons, have standards that encourage creativity, and take place in a safe environment that encourages individualism and success. By striving to acknowledge and engage in student’s differing personal lives, learning abilities, and preferences, teachers can easily improve the educational system. We can better the educational system in America today in a few simple steps. By including multiple testing methods, as well as differentiating educational settings, school systems can successfully personalize and focus on tIhe students and their differences. These changes will ultimately lead to the most rewarding education.

Becoming a teacher is a very demanding and lengthy process; it requires years of schooling, hundreds of hours practicing, and even more time preparing for class. Although this occupation requires a lot of time and effort to obtain, many teachers quickly become lazy. In my opinion it should be a teachers biggest goal to administer the most beneficial and well-rounded education. A great first step in this process is to take a look at the most highly focused upon aspect of education; the assessing and testing of acquired knowledge.   choice answers are usually based off the most factually correct response rather than asking students for their personal opinions and reasoning. The website FareTest offers information on the best and most hurtful testing methods and all that comes with them. An article can be found on their website that directly relates to the importance of straying away from multiple choice tests: “Assessment based on student performance on real learning tasks is more useful and accurate for measuring achievement — and provides more information for teaching — than multiple-choice achievement tests”. While multiple choice tests quickly measure knowledge, they don’t allow students to illustrate their broader perspective on the topic or even their understanding of the information. Often times, students leave a class knowing hundreds of vocabulary but lack the ability to apply these terms to their everyday life or even develop useful connections between them and the world. When teachers require some term memorization, along with essays, and short answer responses, they are inhibiting a more substantial and logical learning pattern. The combination of various educational assessment methods will only encourage students to gain a higher level of understanding of the topics, leading to prolonged knowledge. In an ideal situation, teachers would be required to regularly mix up their testing methods, consequently improving their students overall educational success.

The second most common way teachers assess their students is with the help of rubrics. Rubrics are basically a set of directions that offer guidance and explanations as to what you will be assessed on. Many individuals, including myself, have found them to be very useful and informative. Despite the advantages of rubric use, they also possess a few underlying negatives: they prohibit individuals from stepping outside their comfort zone, and they focus the student’s attention on completing a check list rather than fully learning a topic. Students have become so accustomed to receiving a set of instructions/ standards that they have lost ambition and confidence to add their own twist on assignments. This can eventually lack the use of their imagination. The other negative that comes with rubrics is how students focus their attention solely on following a list of instructions, that they lose sight of the most important aspects of the lesson. Ruby Castillo, a peer of mine wrote a response to a question about helicoptering teachers that incorporated negativity from rubric instruction: “When instructors are focused on the details of a student project, they can lose sight of the big picture: learning the subject at hand”. Her opinion addresses the importance of not only following the rubric, but also having the instruction to go beyond the guidelines and truly learn the topic. By encouraging students to go above and beyond, they are more likely to learn how to step out of their comfort zone, learn to strengthen their hidden abilities, and perhaps, offer a new or refreshing view on a topic.

Beyond various forms of assessment, the ideal educational system would revolutionize its learning environments in order to meet various students’ needs. A successful education would come from a learning environment that utilizes a classroom setting, while also administering online lessons. In my college writing class, we were given the opportunity to experience this online/in-classroom learning phenomenon. We were given a day “off” from class and were instructed to learn a lesson online. The following day we learned that same lesson in class. This activity gave us a minimal, yet satisfying first-hand experience of this new idea of online education. I found great importance in the use of various teaching methods. I was able to create an equally long list of pros for online learning, as I did for the traditional in-class education. The pros of an online learning setting are: it allows students to work at their own pace, it encourages students to further investigate things they don’t fully understand, it promotes time management, responsibility and much more. My surprising acceptance of the new phenomenon gave me a great understanding of its recent birth and popularity within society. A peer of mine named Zach Fritz shared similar beliefs on this topic: “By using online lessons as a tool of learning instead of a replacement for learning can lead to an even more efficient class than the classroom setting alone”. He similarly argues the idea that online education should be a “tool” within the toolbox known as education. While the in-person classroom instructional method seems to be working for most, providing students with the ability to also learn the same lesson at their own speed in the comfort of their home seems only logical. By utilizing our quick access to technology and placing lessons online, along with in the classroom, the ability of reaching out to student’s differing learning styles is achievable.

The previously stated forms of revolutionary action are items that can and will take time to change. However, despite the existence of those complex improvements, easier and quicker fixes exist as well. One of the primary and most beneficial steps towards addressing individual differences in an education system is by starting at the roots. It is important that a teacher takes the time to personally interact with, and get to know their students on a more intuitive level. Teacher- student relationships hold so much potential in improving a student`s overall attitude in and outside of the classroom. Lauren Lebernante, a Professor of education wrote an article strictly addressing the importance of this topic: “Teachers’ classroom practices and their interactions with their students are seen to have the greatest effect on student learning outcomes”. Libernante`s article focuses on the power of teacher and student friendships. Feeling important and respected in any aspect of life betters one`s view and attitude about the situation. By taking the steps to personalize relationships with their students, teachers can expect nothing but improved quality on work. It is a well-known fact that in any school setting, the level of comfort, friendliness and safety a student experiences directly impacts the quality of work produced. When individuals are encouraged to express themselves, their effort and attitude goes up.

It may seem impossible to accomplish all these ideas across the large educational system. However, with progressive determination the goals will be met. By testing students in various ways, all learning styles and preferences will be nourished. Having both online and in-class education will encourage students to continue learning beyond school hours. Incorporating creativity and self-expression into the everyday curriculum will improve quality and effort amongst student’s work. Creating personal relationships that allow students to feel safe and appreciated will serve to improve the overall school setting. There are millions of personal beliefs behind what the most effective tools for creating the best education system are, however, I truly believe a positive combination of these personalized styles and individualistic techniques would produce the most rewarding form of schooling.

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