I haven't had much time for blogging lately, but as I finish the final week of student teaching at a suburban high school in New Jersey, I've been reflecting upon the advice a number of teachers gave me. They call it KISS -- "keep it simple stupid."
At the beginning of my student teaching experience, I took this advice as a well-meaning attempt to make my life easier as I took on the responsiblity of teaching five classes and 120 students for U.S. History I.
As time went on, I began to realize that in order to survive in the current system, keeping it simple is what's required - it's as simple as that. In a system that values getting through 15 chapters of a textbook in American History more than reading real books like biographies, historical novels, and primary source documents, that is what is required. There's no time to dig deeply into the rich, meaningful volumes of material that lie dusty on the shelves of libraries or shiny on the shelves in bookstores. No, history teachers are forced to cover hundreds of bold-faced terms likely to be on the test.
Some teachers view the speed with which they move through chapters as a badge of honor as if it's a huge accomplishment. My supervisor told me I should be grateful to have a cooperating teacher that doesn't mind having to "catch up" when I leave.
I will be spending the next week, and possibly a week after that, grading my students' letters to the editor, their projects, posters, power point presentations and movies. No, I haven't kept it simple and I will never keep it simple because simple is just plain stupid.