“It’s Not an SOL; Can’t Teach It!” Is the Fun of Teaching Gone?

Education WorldI wonder if my fellow Technology Resource Teachers (TRT) experience this: it seems more difficult getting into classrooms. I’ve gotten the following comments lately:

“I don’t understand how you can help my teaching.”
“Aren’t you the computer repair guy?”
“I can’t take time for technology–I can’t get off the pacing guide!”
and my favorite: “We’ll save you for after SOL testing so the kids can have fun.”


Even when I remind folks that I was a classroom teacher for 20 years, their eyes gloss over. It’s as if The Test is looming behind me baring its fangs, sending terror into the classrooms.

And just recently, one of my teachers cancelled his grant project because teachers are unwilling to share their students for a book writing project because instructors don’t want students to miss test reviews. I stood there dumbfounded when I heard this. As a result, I had to cancel a local popular columnist’s visit from the Virginian Pilot from coming back to receive her book from the students’ collaboration project.

Requests for resources lately have focused on test review practice and drill-and-kill sites.

What is one to do?

In a recent article in EducationWorld titled “Has Accountability Taken All the Fun Out of Teaching and Learning?” the author investigates this in an interesting and informative article that you will find interesting. Highlights:

Those of you who have read my past posts know that I enjoy Social Studies and especially hands-on activities, such as a Colonial Fair to reinforce History SOLs. For example, Oklahoma principal Mary Ellen Imbo says, “The tests didn’t stop her fifth-grade teachers from having fun, Imbo says. Those teachers teamed up and brainstormed ways to achieve the goals that testing imposed. Content teachers worked with art, music, and physical education teachers. They created integrated units, such as a colonial fair to meet their colonial period objectives and a re-enactment of the Battle of Gettysburg to meet their Civil War objective.”

Accountability is a good thing, no doubt, but how we do it does matter. I’m reminded of a straight A student in high school who took a trigonometry class (non SOL tested) and failed their first test. Instead of A, B, C, or D, the test was like old fashioned tests: you had to work the answer out. Panicked, they told the teacher, “I didn’t know how to take a test that didn’t have F, G, H, or J on it so that I could do the 50-50 thing.”

Is this how students know how to learn today? Are we preparing them for the 21st Century effectively?